David Černý (born December 15, 1967 in Prague) is a Czech sculptor whose works can be seen in many locations in Prague. His works tend to be controversial. He gained notoriety in 1991 by painting pink a Soviet tank that served... [more]
David Černý (born December 15, 1967 in Prague) is a Czech sculptor whose works can be seen in many locations in Prague. His works tend to be controversial. He gained notoriety in 1991 by painting pink a Soviet tank that served as a war memorial in central Prague. As the Monument to Soviet tank crews was still a national cultural monument at that time, his act of civil disobedience was considered "hooliganism" and he was briefly arrested.
Another of Černý's conspicuous contributions to Prague is "Tower Babies," a series of cast figures of crawling infants attached to Žižkov Television Tower.
In 2005, Černý created Shark, an image of Saddam Hussein in a tank of formaldehyde. The work was presented at the Prague Biennale 2 that same year. The work is a direct parody of a 1991 work by Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. In 2006, the work was banned twice, first in Middelkerke, Belgium, then in Bielsko-Biała, Poland. With respect to the Belgian situation, the mayor of that town, Michel Landuyt, admitted that he was worried about the potential of offending Muslims in a year already marred by tensions associated with Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.
In Poland, the reasons for censorship remain ambiguous. The Deputy Mayor and designated cultural censor of Bielsko Biała, Zbigniew Michniowski, contacted the city-funded gallery, galeria BWA on September 9, 2006 and threatened dire consequences if the artwork were not removed promptly. Jacek Krywult, the mayor of Bielsko Biała, has not yet fully explained the reasons, but staunchly defends the principle of censorship in Poland, a country rich with contemporary art, but increasingly overwhelmed with circumstances associated with censorship. Although clear parallels have been identified with the Brooklyn Museum of Art when New York Mayor Rudolf Giuliani attempted to censor the 1999 sensation exhibition it is lamented that Bielsko Biała, like the rest of Poland, lacks a level of civil society through which Galeria BWA would have defended itself from the attack from the city government.
In response to Michniowski's private order to censor the work, Shark was transported to the Szara gallery, in the nearby town of Cieszyn, Poland. In sharp contrast to the pro-censorship perspective of Mayor Krywult and Deputy Mayor Michniowski, the mayor of Cieszyn, Bogdan Ficek, distanced himself from Bielsko Biała City Hall's League of Polish Families-inspired values. "I can not see any reason a politician should censor art," Ficek said.
His Entropa, created to mark the Czech presidency of the European Union Council during the first semester of 2009, attracted controversy both for its stereotyped depictions of the various EU member states, and because it turned out to have been created by Černý and two friends rather than, as promised, being a collaboration between artists from each of the member states. Some EU members states reacted negatively to the depiction of their country. For instance, Bulgaria decided to summon the Czech Ambassador to Sofia in order to discuss the illustration of the Balkan country as a collection of squat toilets. [show less]