David Cerny Man on a Mission
In English you say it like David Cherny. I was never a great fan of what might be considered modern art and on my rounds of the “modern” museums of Prague I never found anything to really get excited about. Then one day I had just left the Kampa modern art museum and bumped into three large metal babies. This was my introduction to David Cerny and I never looked back. Remember that the Art of David Cerny on the Prague City Walking Tour does not include the Pink Tank or the Walking Trabant.
The Pink Tank
The first thing you’ll learn about David Cerny is that in 1991 he was studying Art at University and we just happened to have a National Monument in the city called the National Monument to Russian Tank Crews (it was an SS80 tank). One night David Cerny collects a bucket of pink paint, goes to this “National Monument” and began painting it pink. It was not long before the police arrested him, the tank being outside of the Courts of Justice and he spent some time in the cells but David Cerny would be forever linked with protest and frankly, bizarre art.
This is the picture on the top of this page. Remember, this is not the official statue of Franz Kafka next to the Spanish Synagogue. This one is behind the Quadrio Shopping centre in the New Town and if it’s running then it is quite mesmerizing to watch the display. This is a commercial commission but it’s not the latest work that he has done. You can see the video on my YouTube Channel. Note that it may only run in the first quarter of any hour.
The Babies (Kampa Park)
This was the first David Cerny art I ever saw but it was years later that I learned the full story. The original commission for 13 babies had come from the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art but having blown the budget, they could only pay for three. Years later when living in the Prague 3 district he was asked if he could create something for the Prague City of Culture (2000) to bring people to the area so he returned to his “Babies” again by creating another ten of them. But where are they?
Is it because it reminds him of a triffid or is it something to do with vintage cameras? This is Trifot which was a commercial commission which has a signature protest message from the designer.
The Hanging Man
This is usually the first piece of David Cerny art that people see although they don’t realise it. Located in Husova in the Old Town and suspended about 20 metres from the ground. He looks a bit like Lenin but he’s actually Sigmund Freud. And what’s he doing hanging there with his hand in his pocket not looking very concerned? David Cerny captures something very specific about the life of Sigmund Freud and there’s a Chicago story as well.
The Upside-Down Dead Horse
Located in the Lucerna passage since 1999. You could not call David Cerny a Monarchist and here he goes out of his way to present King Wenceslas in a very unflattering way. But the story is not in the art. It’s in the location and why it’s here.
The Pissing Men
Anybody exploring the Mala Strana side of town will really walk along only two roads and one of them will lead to a restaurant that has two apparently naked men peeing into a pond shaped like the Czech Republic. But if all you see is peeing men then you’ve not understood the story of what inspired David Cerny to make them.
The Walking Trabant
Going back to the events of the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989, David Cerny recorded the sheer volume of Trabants coming from East Berlin over to West Berlin in a unique art form which can be seen if I’m doing a private tour which explores the area below Petrin Park.
What happens when a government with all it’s best intentions meets an artist who just lives for putting one over on the government. This work caused a bit of a stir when it was unveiled because the government did not actually get what it paid for but as you will see, in the end they didn’t pay anything.
So if you want to see his “Booster Bus” at work, learn more about any of the exhibits above and even some that are off the beaten path then check the Art of David Cerny on the Prague City Walking Tour and I’ll even tell you how to see the piece pictured below.