The principal of Tallahassee Classical School was forced to resign this week after sixth-grade art students were shown images of Michelangelo’s David and parents complained. Yes, that David. No, I am not making this up. According to an interview with the school board chair by Slate’s Dan Kois, the principal of the charter school was supposed to send out a letter from the art teacher alerting parents that the nude statue would be shown. I can’t stop thinking about what this warning letter might have said.
OpinionParents, be warned! There will be art in this art class!
Just wanted to let you know that in this art class, we’re going to be showing the students some art. Will that be okay? You signed up for a classical education, in theory — at least, that word is in the name of our school! — so I had sort of hoped it would be!
Here is all the art we might be showing your children, with reasons you might object. Please let us know if you object!
Lascaux Cave Paintings: Okay? Depicts violence, and aurochs are not demurely covered!
Venus of Willendorf: This 25,000-plus-year-old terra cotta sculpture of a female form is not wearing a bra. Please advise.
Sphinx: This has two strikes against it. It is a human-animal hybrid, and it is not wearing pants. Please advise if this is the kind of thing we are allowed to show students.
Venus De Milo: Is this acceptable? At least students will not be able to see any bare, exposed arms.
Winged Victory of Samothrace: No arms and, even better, no tempting face!
Bust of Nefertiti: We know this says “bust” in the name, but the depiction stops at the neck.
Mona Lisa: We understand that any depiction of a woman smiling could be problematic; there has been a lot of work done in this state to prevent women from being happy. But she could be smiling sadly! Maybe she’s smiling at a man! Maybe she’s smiling because Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis just told her to smile!
Sistine Chapel ceiling: Another work by Michelangelo, who was perhaps too good at drawing the muscular male form. In the pro column, it was commissioned by a pope. As you know, the pope’s whole job is to be religious! If this is not acceptable, we can show students the floor.
Monet: We assume the whole impressionist movement will be okay because all the pictures are very blurry, but please speak up if that assumption is wrong! There are some pictures of water lilies where you would be able to see a stamen and pistil in almost any other style of art, but, fortunately, that isn’t possible here.
Seurat, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”: We realize this may be problematic as it depicts people spending a Sunday afternoon not in church, but if you zoom in closely enough, it’s not actually people at all, just a bunch of dots!
Piet Mondrian, “Composition With Red, Blue, and Yellow”: We know, we know: What’s wrong with the good old Red, White and Blue? What’s this Piet trying to push on us? If this is a problem, we can instead show the students a picture of a flag.
Eugène Delacroix, “Liberty Leading the People”: Two strikes against this one — a visible nipple and a positive depiction of Liberty. We assume this will have to go.
Jacques-Louis David, “The Death of Marat”: Pro: shows a revolutionary who has met a terrible fate, justly punished for daring to question the wisdom of the state! Con: He is not wearing pants.
Various Picassos: These look nothing like a human body, but we can’t be too careful!
Stick Figures: Has it been officially established whether stick figures are clad? We can hold off until further notice.
“The Thinker” statue by Auguste Rodin: Depiction of someone doing a discouraged activity. We assume this one has to go.
Marcel Duchamp, “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2”: We know it says “nude” in the name, but look at it! It’s just a bunch of squares! This has to be okay, right?
Pop Art: Okay to show students Andy Warhol’s cans?
Georgia O’Keeffe: No.
To avoid any other controversy, the rest of the class is just going to be pictures of “The Scream” (Edvard Munch), over and over!