By Laura Cunningham
Published October 26, 2009 3:10PM PST
I very recently went on a trip with my family to Italy and was fortunate to stop in Florence (Firenze) for a couple of days. I had studied art in Florence the summer prior; my familiarization with the city was very helpful when navigating. During our visit, we made a quick stop at the Galleria dell'Accademia to see the colossal statue, David, by Michelangelo Buonarroti. The gallery is one of many museums in Florence, but certainly a "must-see."
When we walked into the museum, we were greeted by an abundance of security guards and "No Foto!" signs. It is forbidden to take photographs of the David but many people do, including myself. The museum is not very large but do not be fooled, I could easily spend over an hour looking at the various masterpieces. Beyond the entrance there is an open room, Sala del Colosso, filled with many historical altarpieces. While my family was glancing around, I was anxiously anticipating the rooms next door.
Being an art school graduate, I have spent many hours studying the mastered artist, Michelangelo Buonorroti. His work is captivating and incomparable to any other artist known to man. With his many statues and frescoes, he also has an incredible amount of work that is unfinished.
During a study abroad art history class, my professor, Peter Porçal, emphasized the amount of Michelangelo's works that were left unfinished, or "non-finito."When entering the Galleria di Prigioni, we saw a hallway lined with unfinished Michelangelo marble statues. These pieces are fantastic for studying the artist'ssculpting techniques and processes. The figures look as though they are emerging or trying to escape from the surrounding marble; it is truly spectacular. The hallway leads to the 17-feet tall statue of David, which has also been considered "unfinished." Needless to say, my classmates and I were a bit astonished when Professor Porçal pointed this out. While there are many theories and myths about the creation and story behind the David, this idea was fairly new to us and difficult to dismiss. On the stone-carved sling, strewn across David's back, there are small chip-marks where Michelangelo did not completely polish the stone. I was quick to relay the message and point this out to my family; they were equally intrigued. It may be baffling to think of the statue as being imperfect; the flesh-like texture, monumental size and attractiveness of David leave you staring, jaw-dropped.
When my family managed to pass the David and go into another area, we entered several rooms. The farthest room, Salone dell'Ottocento, was very different from the Galleria di Prigioni but very interesting nonetheless; many of Lorenzo Bartolini's plaster casts are located here. The pieces in the room are arranged to replicate Bartolini's Borgo San Frediano art studio during the nineteenth century. The room was congested with sculptures; we felt like we were walking through a maze of white plaster.
As we prepared to exit the gallery, we chose to walk by David once again to say goodbye; his presence was undeniably magnetic. After several visits, I honestly believe the Galleria dell'Accademia is a museum to not miss, even if to only see Michelangelo's beautiful David.
I hope to return soon.