Friday, October 19, 2012

My New Boyfriend

I just read an article about acts of vandalism perpetrated in museums often against very well known works of art.

I've wondered about the accessibility of paintings in the museums as a result of my own desire to get as close as possible to the brush strokes of favorite artists and have actually been concerned about others with less benign intentions...

...As in the woman who smeared red lipstick across an all-white painting, certain that the artist would consider it an "act of love", a Canadian artist who ingested and vomited blue food on a Mondrian at the MOMA in New York and a rotten kid who stuck chewing gum on a painting in Detroit.

Most recent is the incident at the Tate in London where a man used black paint to scrawl on a painting by the abstract expressionist, Mark Rothko. This lunatic claimed that his action was not vandalism but related to a movement called "Yellowism."

Well, I just googled "yellowism" ("yellowism can only be presented in yellowistic chambers") and urge you to click the link if you want to experience something truly bizarre. I hope they throw this jackass in jail for not only defacing a work of art but for compromising the reputations of perfectly respectable words by combining them into the most incomprehensible manifesto I have read since the writings of one Mr. J. Bieber in which he tried to justify his musical existence as well as his haircut.

The Rothko before....
In other word, "yellowism" has caused me to see red. But I have yet to describe an act of vandalism that has left me weak with anger: In Italy, in 1991, a man attacked Michelangelo's David-- breaking off one of its toes before being subdued by museum guards.
and after...


This past summer I had the privilege of visiting the incomparably beautiful city of Florence. Before we left home, I'd procured reservations to see David at the Accademia dell' Arte without having to wait on long lines with art pilgrims who, like myself, included a personal audience with David on their bucket list of "must-sees."

The day of our reservation arrived and despite a record high of 105 degrees in the city, Seth and I set out for our appointment with the world's most famous sculpture--carved from a single block of marble between the years 1501 and 1504.

By the time we reached the gallery, however, my resolve to see David was severely weakened by the intense heat and humidity plus a raving bitch of a bone spur on my heel that had seriously slowed me down throughout this once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

Hobbling and soaked with pespiration, I'd passed sunlit piazzas as well as the cooler winding backstreets for which the city is famous, eventually turning a corner to be shocked by the magnitude of the crowd waiting to enter the museum. Even the line for those with reservations (for which I'd forked over quite a few Euro) was apparently endless so I, of course, had an inevitable meltdown both literally and figuratively.

I wasn't the only one. Heat-flushed and dehydrated tourists all around us were bitching about the lines so I felt right at home and, based on the comraderie of the discontented, made the decision to stick it out.

Sweating like a race horse after the Kentucky Derby, I waited. Holding on to Seth for support as my sugar and fluid levels plummeted and the sun burned through my hair to my scalp, I waited. Shaking off the gypsies gamely trying to sell me pastel panoramas of the city or tearfully begging for spare change, I waited.

"David damn well better be worth it," I muttered to Seth.

It too nearly an hour and a half (I don't want to think about how long it took for non-ticket holders) but we were finally in. Bags were checked, metal detectors traversed and, suddenly, at the end of a wide, cool hall, there he was. My new boyfriend.

I had no choice but to gasp. Standing on a pedestal, bathed in light, David waited...and it was if we were the only two in the room. 

Gazing up at his face, past the provocative extension of his leg, the curve of his hand and his giant marble penis -- crowned by what can only be pubic hair that had been set on 15th century electric rollers, I knew that he and I had a future together. At least for the next hour or so.

Aggressively hovering over a teenage boy who was hogging one of the few available seats until he fled the wrath of my pointed stares and correctly deduced that I was insane, I sat and stared at David. Time stood still. We were finally together -- David and I -- as it had always been meant to be.

Every ten minutes or so, the guard on duty -- a tall, glowering Italian whose eyes, like a lifeguard on a crowded beach, never left his field of supervision would bellow "Silencio!" at the top of his lungs and the crowd would freeze and stand, for a second or so, as still as the statue they were there to admire. 

I, at first, thought that perhaps a child had been lost in the crowd and this was a means to locate calling their name in a now quiet room. But no. This was because the noise, which had risen to a low but never disrespectful roar, would by way of sheer sound waves cause damage to the sculpture.

As the guard propelled himself around David's base, daring us to misbehave with his confrontational demeanor, I silently applauded his vigilance. Here was a man who understood the importance of his job. I pitied the fool who might dare to harm a single marble hair on David's noble head.

I consider myself far the richer for having had the opportunity to spend time with David. It's not just his personal beauty that causes him to be so mesmerizing. I have to imagine that part of the aura is the love the artist had for his sculpture both in process and completion, as well as the combined centuries of pleasure experienced by the multitudes who have circled the six tons of Carrara marble and seen the life beyond the stillness.

As for the toe that was broken off during the attack, it's been reattached and David looks none the worse for wear. And, as long as that guard remains on the job, I know David is safe. 


  1. I've always wanted to see David, too. But now that I read this I think I'll go in the winter.

  2. When we were in NYC we went to Hoboken to Carlo's Bakery. We waited in the heat for not 1, not 2, but 3 hours for pastries!

    I think your wait was more worthwhile.

  3. I've been in love with this statute since I was a teenager. Pure beauty. I can't even think of anything that compares to it.

  4. I can't even imagine the genius it took to create something as magnificent as David. I'm deeply jealous you have seen him in person. XO

  5. Good thinking, Anon...unlikely to get the kind of heat wave we experienced in the cooler months.

  6. Michele, if pastries had been served in the gallery with David, it would have been even better!

  7. Mchelle, I hope that one day you an go see him in person. It's truly worth it.

  8. Go see him, Janet...he's waiting for you.

  9. I've heard only good things.

    And yes. "Yellowism". They can spare me their justifications. You want to create or modify art? Do your own!


  10. Thanks for commenting, Pearl. Did you read the manifesto? It's pretty out
    there....and yeah, create your own, yellowists!

  11. I want to see him!! Some day...