Saturday, September 5, 2009

Art and the Antics of David Černý

David Černý is Czech modern art. If you see something around the city that strikes you as strange or amusing, chances are it's a Černý.

Above, one of his first famous works. The monument itself was built by the Russians during their presence to commemorate their 1968 invasion. In 1991, Černý and a group of artist buddies stormed the monument under the cover of night with buckets of pink paint. You see the result.

The Russians re-painted the monument to its original form only to have it re-painted pink soon after by members of Czech Parliament in response to enthusiastic public demand.

The "Hanging out" sculpture. He's been hanging for around 12 years now.

The Wencleslas equestrian statue in Wencleslas Square, one of the most recognizable monuments in Prague.
Černý has this displayed inside of a mall off of Wencelas Square. It kind of reminds me of Animal House...

The babies. Not sure what the deal is with these things, but they climb the TV tower a few blocks from my flat and it's bizarre. It's a trend with this guy.

The pissing dudes. The general rule for public urination is as follows: the further east you move in Europe, the fewer beers need be drank before a guy has no problem taking a very public leak. This is taken to be Černý's mockery of what I've already mentioned is a significant cultural practice.

Believe it or not, their hips actually move and spell out words. It's possible to send text messages to a special number and the dudes will start to write out your message with their endless stream. If this thing isn't ridiculous enough, the pool that they are standing in is shaped like the Czech Republic.

Any explanation needed?

Museum of Modern Art, Holesovice, Praha.

On my way to the museum, I passed a Czech guy struggling to get through an acoustic rendition of The Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Scar Tissue" that maybe, for comedic value, even my dad could appreciate. All that distinguished it from a traditional Czech folk song for me was the chorus: "with the birds I share this lonely view." For the birds alright.

Every six months, the seat of the EU Presidency shifts from one member state to another. The beginning of 2009 marked the first such opportunity for the Czech Republic since it joined during the 2004 EU enlargement. In celebration of the milestone, the Czech government commissioned Černý to put together a sculpture for display in Brussels. As you may have expected, controversy ensued.
Titled "Entropa, "each EU member state has its own crude caricature. Černý was commissioned to collaborate with artists from across Europe and for some time, it was thought that he was in fact doing so. Instead, he created false names, made fake CVs and websites, and composed the piece by himself with the help of two other friends. The elaborate only complicated the controversy and outrage when it was unveiled.

Germany, depicted as a series of autobahns. It's been suggested that their arrangement resembles a swastika. Yeesh.
Italy, a soccer match. To appreciate this one, video is needed.

Spain, a field of cement and construction.
For Poland, a group of priests raise the gay pride flag Iwo Jima style on a potato field. Crazy.
Romania. A Dracula theme park that periodically roars and blows smoke. Yeah, they weren't too impressed either...

Other countries (from Wikipedia):

Černý later expressed regrets about the way things played out. What one can get away with in Prague versus across Europe are two different things. A lot of people were pissed, the Czechs included, as Černý misled them about the nature of the project while accepting funds. He still ended up pouring a bunch of his own dough into it. Černý may be a nutjob, but I'm entertained.

Breaking news: the NYT World edition just did a piece on him yesterday...coincidence...


  1. Im offended by his portrayal of Denmark/esquarian statues...sorry i can't spell.