The Mystery Of The "David-Apollo"

The Mystery Of The "David-Apollo"

The sculpture which allows us a look into the mind of Michelangelo.
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Pure, white, marble. Emotion frozen in stone. Michelangelo was the master sculptor. Ever since I read "The Agony and the Ecstasy" as a child, the story and work of Michelangelo has captivated my mind. When I was in Italy last semester, I got the chance to see his magnificent work in person. The sculpture which stood out to me the most, though not well known, is the "David-Apollo."

A drawing from my sketchbook while in front of the sculpture.

The "David-Apollo" lets us look into the mind of the maker, as it was never finished. Not only is the sculpture incomplete, revealing its creation, the subject is also ambiguous and undecided. Is the mysterious twisting youth a Christian David or a secular Apollo? Could the figure possibly represent both figures simultaneously? If this figure is David, is he not both the pensive and victorious David at the same time? This sculpture raises questions with answers that will never be determined for sure.

The "David-Apollo" has mood. The figure is reflective, looking inward and lost in his own world. The body twists around in a spiraling serpentine pose supported by an unfinished mound upon which the right foot rests. This drives the right knee upward into a perfectly balanced contrapposto. This stance is full of potential energy, a half-relaxed stance of a powerful body. The left arm reaches up across the chest, while the head turns to the left. This same arm seems to either be supporting or reaching for a long, unfinished form flowing down the back. The right hand is still attached to the hip, and the rear of the statue is supported by a tree trunk. It is clear that the rectangular protrusion running down the back was once connected directly to the tree trunk, cut away into a seemingly impossible negative space. The body ripples with muscle, and the shadows catch the forms of the body in a very subtle way because of the texture of the chisel marks. These marks are long drives with the chisel, and they cover the body like crosshatching. They follow the contours and give definition. The face seems as if it is still a sketch, as nothing is clearly defined, yet it still manages to carry a calm, elegant expression that is almost caught in dream state.

The most captivating part of this statue is the mystery. The unfinished parts are mesmerizing, and both the general public and professionals enjoy making their guesses.

Upon my own observation, I believe there is much evidence that points at the figure’s identity being David. The most obvious would be the mound the right foot is resting on. This could easily be transformed into the head of a Goliath. It is easy to imagine the rectangular shape wrapping around the back could have been whittled down to a sling similar to the one Michelangelo’s earlier colossal David holds. The right hand could also be holding a stone that would fit into the sling on his back. The most interesting thing about having all of those symbols in the same place is that this sculpture would become a complete narrative of before and after the slaying of Goliath. The entire story distilled into one stone.

On the other hand, if this was intended to be a depiction of Apollo, then the mysterious mounds of stone would have been transformed into other symbols. Writer Karen Wilkin discuses a few theories in her article An Incomplete Mystery. Wilkin believes the raised lump could have been transformed into a tortoise. The tortoise was considered to be the leader of the Muses, and therefore would be associated with Apollo because he was god of the arts. Down the back, there is a rectangle of marble that she thinks could be Apollo’s bow and quiver of arrows.

I can't help but think that if this figure is David, it is quite different from the earlier "David" all of the world knows. That David is confident and sure of himself. He stands ready to send his stone sailing at the Goliath that he is staring down. The sculpture towers over the heads of ordinary people as an ideal hero of Florence. The later, much smaller "David-Apollo" is sensual and reflective. It is not a distilled moment, but instead an ambiguous figure that doesn’t reside in time. If he is David, he rests both before and after his heroic act. There is a sense of despondency, as if he regrets the blood that he has shed.

As is, the "David-Apollo" is a mystery, but his ambiguity makes him all the more interesting.


Cover Image Credit: Casa Buonarroti

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To the guy that shot my brother...

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To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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