David Cerný Makes Social Commentary with Controversial Public Art

by CaroPosted on

Czech sculptor David Cerný has a reputation for being a “bad boy” artist. Although he rejects labels, he is most certainly a political artist, one whose works visually lash out against his government’s hypocrisies. One of the first pieces to put him on the international map was a pink Soviet tank that served as a war memorial in Prague, followed by such sculptures as the Czech patron St. Wenceslas riding an inverted horse, and giant stainless steel babies crawling up the city’s TV tower, to name a few. They are witty and bizarre but come from an intellectual place, even though the artist refuses to take himself too seriously. While he recognizes that his hometown in Prague is easily shocked, he does not create art for the sole purpose of shocking his audience. Cerný was born during the era of Communist Party Rule, when thousands of Czechoslovaks faced political persecution. In a sense, he finds himself grateful for the experience because it continues to provide him with inspiration for new ideas. One of his most recent statues, for example, is “Gesture,” a larger-than-life purple middle finger raised to the front of Prague Castle, where the president resides. It was installed just a few days before an election. Another is “In Utero,” a 20 foot tall reflective sculpture of a full-frontal naked woman. None of these works are for the faint of heart, but neither is the history of Cerný’s country, and keep those aspects of Prague’s history alive for both residents and visitors.