Michelangelo’s ‘David’, a rifle, and cultural paranoia

I’m still laughing at the outraged response of the Italian government to this advertisement from Armalite, Inc.

Fox News reports:

An Illinois-based gunmaker has incurred the wrath of the Italian government after using Michelangelo‘s famous sculpture of the Biblical hero David in an advertisement for one of its rifles.

. . .

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini urged the company to withdraw the advertisement after images of it appeared on several Italian media websites over the weekend. Franceschini tweeted “The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law. We will take action against the American company so that it immediately withdraws its campaign.”

The Italian government claims that it has the copyright to all commercial uses of the marble masterpiece, which was created between 1501 and 1504 and resides in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. The gallery’s director, Angelo Tartuferi, told Repubblica newspaper “The law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be distorted. In this case, not only is the choice in bad taste but also completely illegal.”

There’s more at the link.

Of course, all the fuss is garnering yet more publicity for Armalite, which is doubtless lapping it up with a big corporate smile.  As to Italy claiming to own the copyright to commercial use of Michelangelo’s ‘David’, I’m willing to bet that any commercial copyright expired an awful long time ago, in terms of national and international copyright law.  In any event, even if they pass a law that applies within Italy, I daresay it’ll have no force and effect outside that nation’s boundaries – and I doubt very much whether Armalite plans to run that advertisement inside Italy at all!

Kudos to Armalite for a very creative idea.  They’ve taken it further, picturing another of their rifles hanging on the wall in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa.

So far, no reaction from the French government . . .



  1. Not to be cynical, but given the duplicitous activities of most governments nowadays, we should consider the probability that the Italian government is in on the campaign, and is happily being paid off under the table while also reaping the benefits to their museums of the free publicity.

  2. You know the the painting American Gothic depicted to the left is not in the Louve?

    It is in Chicago so maybe the Armalite should be between that and a Monet or a Van Gogh at the Art Institute.


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