Advert featuring Michelangelo's David banned from subway due to nudity

Barolo suggested the statue’s genitals could be covered by ‘modesty stickers’ of the Italian flag.

An advert for an Italian restaurant featuring the world famous David statue by Michelangelo has been banned from Glasgow’s subway because it contains nudity.

Barolo, the popular restaurant in Glasgow’s Merchant City, commissioned the advert which features the famous sculpture holding a slice of pizza with the tagline ‘It doesn’t get more Italian’.

Global, which operates the advertising spaces in Glasgow’s subway rejected Barolo’s original design which saw the picture of the masterpiece cropped at his knees.

In a bid to prevent a complete reprint of the adverts, Barolo suggested that the statue’s genitals could be covered by ‘modesty stickers’ of the Italian flag, however Global said that they were too small.

The company then redesigned the advert so that the image of David was cropped at the waist and it can now be seen in Glasgow’s subways.

The statue of David, which is considered to be a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, is one of the most famous objects in the history of art, with millions of visitors flocking to Florence over the years to see it.

Mario Gizzi, director of the DRG group who runs Barolo and a number of other venues across the city and rest of Scotland, said: “This is a globally recognised piece of art. It is taught in schools. People from all over the world travel to see it. 

“It’s not the 1500s anymore, it’s 2023. Are we really saying that the people of Glasgow can’t handle seeing a naked statue?

“Barolo is all about Italy’s classic cooking and Michelangelo’s David is one of the country’s most famous artworks – as the ad states, it doesn’t get more Italian than that.

“We were somewhat bemused to receive an email from Global which confirmed that our ad could not be used as ‘it is art but it is still nudity and the way it is cropped in this copy may not be suitable for the untargeted medium’. We then had to go to the cost of a full reprint.”

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) does not prohibit nudity in ads.

A spokesperson said: “It’s in the gift of media owners to refuse advertising space. They often have their own criteria, alongside the Advertising Code, for what they will accept. That is a commercial decision and not something we regulate. We respond to concerns about ads once they’re in the public domain.

“The Advertising Code does not prohibit nudity in ads. Under our rules, providing the level of nudity is not explicit or gratuitous and is relevant to the product, some nudity may be considered acceptable; however explicit nudity, particularly if that nudity is sexual in nature, should appear in targeted media only. Our criteria isn’t based on the ‘amount’ of nudity in an ad, but instead whether an ad’s content as well as its targeting or placement is irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”

Global has been contacted for comment.

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