‘VIP tariff’ on Statue of David’s penis in Dubai: Art or censorship?

A 3D replica of Michelangelo’s world-famous ‘Statue of David’ is on display at Expo 2020 in Dubai. Above the shoulder at least. If you want to see the whole statue, you must have a VIP ticket.

The fact that the statue is exhibited in this way brings about censorship discussions. Some visitors argue that the limited view permit is due to the statue being naked, while others think it may be a form of artistic expression.

Whatever the reason, you only need to be a ‘special guest’ to see the entire statue of David, which will be on display for 6 months.

The original of Michelangelo’s fascinating work has been on display at the Gallery dell’Accademia in Florence since 1873, and the sculpture, made nearly 500 years ago, is still considered a unique work today for its detailed depiction of human anatomy.

It is not possible to see these details in the exhibition in Dubai. The statue is exhibited in a narrow space surrounded by Roman columns above chest level. The rest of his body is on a separate floor, in a section that is hardly visible when viewed from above.

The replica on display was produced on one of the world’s largest 3D printers after 40 hours of digital scanning to the original.

Works not censored for the first time

The Statue of David was censored by the Roman Catholic Church in the 1500s, its genitals covered with metal fig leaves.

In 2016, the genitals of the sculptures exhibited at the Capitoline Museum in Rome during the visit of Iran’s then-president Rouhani to Italy were hidden with wooden panels.

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