For the forthcoming publication of the book From Marble to Flesh: the Biography of Michelangelo’s David by Victor Coonin, The Florentine Press is relying on the public’s fascination with this Italian cultural icon to prompt donations on the American crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter. Funds are being raised for printing costs that supplement the press’s own investment, and project backers have a chance to reserve and get the first copies of the book.
This is the first general public book about Michelangelo’s David to tell the comprehensive story of the world-famous sculpture, from its origins up to the present day. It answers the frequently asked question: “Why is the David so famous?” The answer can be found in the David’s story, which art history professor Victor Coonin tells as a fascinating centuries-long biography.
The book explains how the block of marble was quarried more than half a century before the statue was installed in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria. Then, there was a litany of contracts, artists and plans while the patrons, the Operai del Duomo, searched for perfection, finally finding it in Michelangelo. But the story doesn’t end there. Virtually ignored for some years, controversies and scandals erupted around it in the 19th century, while in the 20th and 21st centuries, the David has acquired global iconic status and inspired contemporary response from Bansky to The Simpsons. Lately, it’s been in the public eye when a copy was deemed offensive by inhabitants of a small Japanese town and, more recently, when the image was used without permission by an arms manufacturer.
From the 15th century to now, the story of the David is a profoundly Florentine one, and that’s why The Florentine Press has embraced the project. Director Marco Badiani affirms, “We’re making a beautiful book, printed in Florence and on paper that is made in Italy. It’s a conscious choice aimed at supporting the print publishing industry, recognizing that people still want to own and hold books like this.”
But how can you gauge how many people will purchase a printed book? For this, the publishing house has turned to Kickstarter, a platform on which people can donate any sum towards a project in exchange for tangible rewards. Hoping to raise 5,000 USD, The Florentine Press will use these funds to cover printing costs, and project backers will receive copies of the book, among other things, as rewards. “An independent press like ours has to contend with market realities,” explained Badiani. “It can use tools like crowdfunding not just to raise monies but also to determine public interest.”
From Marble to Flesh is believed to be the first crowdfunding project related to Italian art history and is expected to achieve its goal due to the public’s deep affection for and love of Florentine art and, in particular, of Michelangelo’s David.
The Kickstarter campaign is running from March 17 to April 16, 2014; please see theflr.net/davidkickstarter.
The book From Marble to Flesh: the Biography of Michelangelo’s David will be released in May 2014 by The Florentine Press. The 200 page book with about 100 colour illustrations has an expected cover price of 35$ / 25€.
About the author
A. Victor Coonin is the James F. Ruffin Professor of Art History at Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee. A graduate of Oberlin College, he earned his Master’s at Syracuse University in Florence and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Professor Coonin has published widely on Italian Renaissance painting and sculpture in distinguished journals.