WASHINGTON -- Michelangelo's "David-Apollo" is being showcased publicly at the National Gallery of Art to open a yearlong celebration of Italian culture in more than 30 U.S. cities.
The sculpture from 1530 was unveiled earlier this month by Italy's foreign minister to launch "2013: The Year of Italian Culture," which will showcase Italy's art, science, music, design and innovations. Events and exhibits are planned in Los Angeles, Houston, Cleveland, New York, Boston and points in between, involving about 70 cultural institutions.
The masterpiece by Michelangelo will be featured as a centerpiece in Washington until March as a symbol of friendship between the United States and Italy, said Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata.
"It represents innovation and some revolutionary concepts, which were developed by Michelangelo and by the Renaissance artists," he said, "but it represents also the bilateral relations between Italy and the United States."
The sculpture was last shown in the U.S. capital in 1949 when it drew nearly 800,000 visitors. It was a centerpiece for those who attended President Harry Truman's inaugural reception at the museum, he said.
This time, it will be on view for crowds attending the inauguration of President Obama.
"David-Apollo" is special, in part, because it's mysterious and engages a viewer's imagination. It was left unfinished and unresolved, said Alison Luchs, curator of early European sculpture at the National Gallery.