A Guide to David Cerny’s Statues – Prague’s Banksy

David Cerny is the original Banksy. A daring, controversial and artistic trailblazer. His work is designed to provoke a reaction, force you to think and sometimes brazenly pushes political statements. In fact, he garnered infamy with his first piece “Pink Tank”.

He managed to get a hold of a WWII Soviet tank, painted it pink and then placed a giant middle finger on it. It resulted in him getting arrested. There’s nothing subtle about Cerny’s work.

Over the years, his statues have become part of the city’s landscape. Below is my guide to David Cerny’s statues.

 


In Utero

utero

This is a real traffic stopper.

Setup on a traffic island is a huge statue, made of stainless steel, that shimmers in the daylight. This brazen statue is of a naked woman, pregnant, on her knees and with her legs spread.

When I first saw it, I was gobsmacked. This isn’t a statue I expected to be displayed in such a public location.

Its placement on the traffic island is a public hazard. Its probably caused countless fender benders, due to drivers gawking at it.

 

Piss

piss

The name says it all.

Two bronze mechanical men stand peeing into a pool that’s made in the shape of the Czech Republic’s land mass.

On the side of the pool, there’s a phone number. Send a text and watch the men spell out your message. That’s pretty F@*king cool.

In a 2009 interview Cerny said:

 The figures are an apt commentary on the self-deprecating Czechs who … have gritted their teeth through centuries of invasion and occupation, barely resisting and seldom winning at anything.

 

Babies

babies-on-towers

prague-babies

Anyone who’s had a baby will tell you, they’re the most beautiful in the world. That’s not the case with David Cerny’s babies. They’re ugly and creepy. Instead of faces they have slots.

To see them up close and personal, head to the Museum Kampa in Mala Strana. There’s 3 large baby statues crawling on the ground. The other famous location is at Zizkov TV Tower. This is an interesting story.

Zizkov Tower was named as one of the ugliest buildings in the world. So in an attempt to spruce it up, they attached 10 fiberglass babies crawling up and down the tower. Shockingly, it worked. They were a hit and people wanted them to remain permanently.

 

Horse

horsecerny

Lucerna Palace’s central atrium is dominated by Cerny’s upside-down dead horse, which is ridden by St. Wenceslas. It’s supposed to be an ironic twist on the St. Wenceslas statute in the square outside.

It’s been debated whether this sculpture depicts the need for society to let go of legends, or if it represents the Czechs no longer respecting their past.

 

Brown Nosers

brownnoser

No one likes a brown noser, and apparently that includes David Cerny.

This sculpture is a direct dig at two people that Cerny didn’t like, former Czech president Václav Klaus and former National Gallery director Milan Knížák. It depicts the lower bodies of the two men bending over, with a ladder leading up to their rear ends. When you stick your head into their behinds, you get to watch them on TV while listening to “We are the champions”.

It’s painfully clear what Cerny was getting at with this piece.

 

Man Hanging Out

david-cerny-hanging-man

This sculpture of Sigmund Freud hangs from a high beam. He’s holding on with his right arm, while his left is in his pocket. Several people have confused this statue with a real person and have called the police to report a potential suicide attempt.

 

Kafkas Head

Gif from thisiscolossal.com
Gif from thisiscolossal.com

This is my favorite David Cerny work.

It’s a massive steel head of Franz Kafka. It’s made up of 42 moving layers, and it’s constantly deconstructing and reconstructing Kafka’s head.  Seeing it in person is mesmerizing.

 

Guns

guns

“Guns” is a provocative and thoughtful piece.

Located in the courtyard of the former Artbanka Museum of Young Art, are four guns pointed at each other. To me, it represents a balance of power through terror. Each gun dares not fire, from fear of being shot.

A Mexican standoff.

And yet (every now and then) the sound of the trigger being pulled and its shot rings out in the courtyard.


Below is a video of my day in Prague. Go to 2:21 for clips on some of the David Cerny statues I came across that day.

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