DAVID ČERNÝ is a contemporary Czech artist known for his controversial, sometimes gruesome sculptures and installations. He also had a piece on display at the London Olympics this year. While in Prague, I planned an art walk to find more of his public, permanent works.
David ČErný's Wicked Public Art in Prague
Zizkov TV Tower
Start in Žižkov at the base of the TV tower. Fun fact: This structure holds the #2 spot on the World’s Top 10 Ugly Buildings list. Černý decided to make it a little more appealing by placing some crawling babies along the tower’s central rod. Cute, huh? Wrong. These are actually gigantic, terrifying monster babies.
St. Wenceslas riding a dead horse
From Jiřího z Poděbrad, take the metro to Můstek. Ignore the greasy sausage stands and creepy men hawking black light theater tickets. Find the entrance to Lucerna Palace and meander through the old-fashioned shopping arcade. Under a stained glass dome, look up (Černý likes to make people look up). Oh wow, a dead horse hanging upside down with a Game of Thrones cast member straddling his belly. It takes me a minute, but I realize the installation is supposed to be a take on the statue of St. Wenceslas at the top of Wenceslas Square.
Hop on the #9 tram from Vodičkova, and take it west to Švandovo divadlo. Here, Černý painted a white stripe down the center of a Soviet tank’s hull, reminiscent of the vehicles that invaded Prague in 1968. This particular art installation was illegally erected in 2008. Pretending to be a sultry Victoria’s Secret model, I take my photo next to this cotton candy-colored burrowing piece of anti-communist symbolism, ignoring strange looks from passersby. I think Černý would dig that,actually…
Next, take the #20 tram to Malostranská and, in broken Czech, ask for directions to the Kafka Museum. Locate the sculpture so realistic that it even moves side to side and up and down like a drunk guy taking a leak. Send an SMS to the statue and it will spell out your message in pee into the large bronze encasement shaped like the Czech Republic. I guess nothing says nationalism like publicly urinating all over one’s home country.
Finally, make your way to Mánesův Bridge and turn right onto Křižovnická Street. Stroll along the Vltava river, avoiding the tourists crowding Charles Bridge, and find the Artbanka Museum of Young Art. Černý contributed several works to this new institution, dedicated to Czech art after 1968. Step into the courtyard and look up. BANG! It’s a veritable “Mexican Standoff.”