Perfection of Michelangelo’s David reimagined in age of algorithm

Major Australian arts project begins in Florence, gives new life to themes inspired by history’s great works

A major Australian arts project commences this week at the feet of Michelangelo’s David as part of a global unveiling in Florence and the opening of an online exhibition.

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Entitled First Commissions, 100 emerging artists have re-examined timeless social themes through a contemporary lens to produce 30 works. They have reimagined some of history’s most iconic artistic commissions – from Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait with Monkeys to Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty.

Responding to the theme of human physical perfection, five artists received arguably the most iconic commission, the inspiration for Michelangelo’s David, a vision of human perfection carved from a mammoth slab of marbled stone.

Launching this week at the Florence Fine Arts Academy, the exhibition is a stunning coming together of old and new, merging classical Renaissance architecture with hyper-contemporary works that unravel our understanding of physical perfection in the age of social media filters, automation and data.

Five young Australian artists, including Melbourne visual artist Esther Stewart and Australian Indigenous artist Ashley Perry, have created works that examine how digital culture, human relationships and the built environment impact our current understanding of physical perfection.

The David commission has also been interpreted by artists working in other disciplines including choreographer and dancer Jack Riley, interactive composer Samuel Kreusler and classical composer Danna Yun. Despite their unique personal histories, perspectives and disciplines, the artists reveal a generation who collectively refuse to subscribe to the homogeny of perfection.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell said the First Commissions project takes a fresh perspective on historical commissions to transform timeless social themes into contemporary art and different formats.

“The University of Melbourne believes art can challenge how people feel and see the world. As our world becomes increasingly automated, our creative artists and musicians have the ability to work together to solve problems and meet the challenges that we face in society. “

“A fine arts and music education is transformative, encourages confidence and a strong sense of self-belief. It gives students the courage to think independently and critically. It fosters collaboration and creative risk-taking, passion, determination and resilience,” Professor Maskell said.

The exhibition highlights the importance of global institutions of academic excellence such as the Galleria dell’ Accademia; Accademia Di Belle Arti Di Firenze and the University of Melbourne to creatively challenge boundaries and create thought-provoking experiences that move others.

Galleria dell’ Accademia Director Dr Cecilie Hollberg said: “I am very pleased that the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze has contributed to the realization of this project which, once again, makes us reflect on how the Renaissance masterpieces kept in our extraordinary museums are still a rich source of inspiration for young talents.”

The entire First Commissions series reimagines the original commissions for David, The Titanic, Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, Bob Dylan’s Hurricane, Camille Claudel’s Age of Maturity, Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Monkey’s and Susan Hewitt & Penelope Lee’s The Great Petition.

To explore the University of Melbourne’s First Commissions exhibition in full, visit the online gallery here or via:

SOURCE: The University of Melbourne

/Public Release.