>>Michelangelo's interpretation showed David after he made >the >decision to fight Goliath. It was David in the >contemplative >>moments before this boy would join battle with a monster, >the >>moment before the battle would ensue. > >Now Mark....how many people know the history behind this work >and its significance? They simply see a naked guy .
I think it's unrealistic to discount the artist's (or a photographer's) intent. It's also distracting to ask how many people know the story - that's irrelevant, because the technical quality and impact of the work engenders its own set of questions. I think most people who see the sculpture for the first time are moved to read more about it either on the explanatory plaque or by listening to an audio guide or by reading about the sculpture in a printed guide.
If we discount the artist's intent, or in some ways deliberately isolate ourselves from it, then we lose track of intended meaning and do ourselves a disservice by denying the artist an opportunity to communicate with us. Of course we may choose to observe a photographic exhibition or exhibition of paintings or sculptures for a variety of reasons - we may even choose to simply walk by everything without paying close attention to any of it. By doing so we avoid communication. But I think most people attend photography exhibitions and painting or sculpture exhibits in order to try to appreciate the intent of the individuals who created the works on display. That sometimes we just don't get the artist's intent or that sometimes the artist has done a terrible job of communication are different matters altogether.
How well Michaelangelo preserved his personal image of David in the circumstances is fundamentally important to the sculpture's status in art history. That the sculpture can stand on its own as a remarkable technical achievment contributes to Michaelanglo's status as a great painter and sculptor. But to me that only means that such a remarkable technical achievment must be based on some greater cause - hence, so much of the art-loving public's interest in the stories behind the individual artistic creations. Nothing stands alone.