I See a Red Door and I Want it Painted Cerny

The New York Times this weekend ran a fun little profile of Czech art-prankster David Černý, the guy who did that great fake group-EU sculpture that got the Czechs in so much hot water when they held the EU presidency for six months. Excerpt:

He has painted a Soviet tank pink, depicted Prague's heroic 10th-century King Wenceslas riding a dead, upside down horse and lampooned the incendiary, right-wing Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, by displaying a caricature of him inside a giant fiberglass anus.

"David Cerny is one of the region's leading cultural and political satirists and one of a handful of Eastern European artists who have achieved global stature," says Jan Vitvar, culture editor of Respekt, the Czech political weekly. "Some Czechs would prefer him to be grayer, more contemplative and behave less like a rock star, but no one can ignore him." [...]

But some critics, like Milan Knizak, the director of Prague's National Gallery, counter that "Entropa" is little more than a cynical provocation by an artistic shock jock who has made a career out of thumbing his nose at the establishment.

"There is nothing special about David Cerny's art, other than that he is more visible than other artists and talented at marketing," Mr. Knizak said. "But artists like Cerny who are in headlines today will be forgotten tomorrow. His work is destined for the amusement park and won't stand the test of time."

Mr. Knizak, whom Mr. Cerny once depicted inside the same towering sculpture of a rectum where he placed his other nemesis, Mr. Klaus, may not be the most objective critic. [...]

"The Czechs can't get out of their 'be careful' mentality," [Cerny] said. "It is in our brains and in our bodies because of decades of watching out, of worrying that your neighbors are spying on you."

Černý, who I know a little bit, is one of the world's great anti-communist artists. Here, for example, is his tribute to the still-existing Czech Communist Party:

You can see much more at his website, and also Wikipedia.


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  • ||

    I like the subtlety of that poster. Too bad kids here don't wear that on t-shirts.

  • Anonymous||

    Ah, the barbed cock of Satan. Is there anything it can't do?

  • ||

    He's better than Wharhol.

  • Ska||

    Gonna have to make that a t-shirt.

  • manjerbil||

    a peer into the future?

  • ||

    ...right-wing Czech president, Vaclav Klaus

    Please explain this statment.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Sounds like another nihilistic "let's make fun of everything" d-bag. Wait, his face tells me I'm right.

    *yawn*

  • Hugh Akston||

    Don't fret TAO, the sheer righteousness of your forthright moral rectitude will prevent him from bringing that devils dancing to your God-fearing small town.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    Ayn Randian is morally judging people again what a suprise.

  • Matt Welch||

    Please explain this statment.

    On the Czech political spectrum, Vaclav Klaus is and advertises himself to be right of center.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Hugh Akston, you have odd imaginations of where manifestations of my morality would lead.

    Ayn Randian is morally judging people again what a suprise.



    Isn't that kinda the point of life?

  • ||

    TAO, I thought the point of life was to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Epi - but I have to crush their souls first. Then the rest is easy :P

  • All The President\'s Czars||

    "Sounds like another nihilistic "let's make fun of everything" d-bag. Wait, his face tells me I'm right."

    Damn you, Big Anti-Communist!

  • Enyap||

    "TAO, I thought the point of life was to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."

    No thats whats best in life

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Damn you, Big Anti-Communist!



    Maybe you can explain the implicit attacks on Wenceslas and Klaus, then? I am having a hard time fitting that into the "anti-communist" theme you seem to see.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    TAO,

    Making negative moral judgements on people who have never personally wronged you or someone you know is just being a moral snob. Has David Cerny fucked your wife or oppressed you in some way? If he has then you have a reason to judge him. Otherwise you're just a judgemental dick.

  • Matt Welch||

    Maybe you can explain the implicit attacks on Wenceslas and Klaus, then? I am having a hard time fitting that into the "anti-communist" theme you seem to see.

    It's possible for political artists to satirize more than just one type of jerkoff leader. And it's possible that messing around with a nation's heroes can be less a slap at the hero than at the nation. Maybe it's even ambiguous!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Making negative moral judgements on people who have never personally wronged you or someone you know is just being a moral snob



    I guess that makes you a moral snob. Unless you meant that as a positive moral judgment.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    TAO,

    Okay, I'll admit that my last arguement was weak & I was making a moral judgement on you. The answer to the question you asked is no. The meaning of life is not to go around judging other people, but to judge yourself.

  • Hugh Akston||

    My sincerest apologies for issuing that rather broad cultural reference right over your head, TAO. I have trouble distinguishing people who take unimportant shit way too seriously by their ethos' alone.

  • Jim Rose||

    I'm a bit confused Matt, how a libertarian thinks Klaus is a "jerkoff." The man is probably the most sensible leader Europe has seen since Thatcher. Granted, the head-in-ass artwork may more symbolic in a larger sense, but c'mon!

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    "There is nothing special about David Cerny's art, other than that he is more visible than other artists and talented at marketing," Mr. Knizak said. "But artists like Cerny who are in headlines today will be forgotten tomorrow. His work is destined for the amusement park and won't stand the test of time."

    Considering that one can only guess what will stand the test of time, I think Cerny's done well for himself. His ideas are clever, even though I'm ignorant regarding the subjects of his derision. I've read a bit on Klaus but I'd have to do more research to have a meaningful opinion of the man.

  • meeko||

    I am from CZ, so i do have a little more insight into this matter, so about Entropa thingy.
    He received some funding or grant from Department of Culture of Czech Republic for Entropa work, and there was a condition, that he will use it in coordination with other EU artits.
    He took money, and made Entropa only with dozen or so of his friends, so he basically stole the money, so noone really has problem with Cerny, but i do have a problem with the way he is using (stealing...) money for it.
    So much about the Entropa controversy.

    On personal level, i do think he is an asshole.

  • ||

    So, meeko, your complaint is that Cerny stole stolen money?

  • Jesse Walker||

    Jim: Matt has written about his problems with Klaus a number of times, for instance here. His basic argument is that there's a wide gap between Klaus' rhetoric and the way he actually governed.

  • Jim Rose||

    Jesse...thanks for the clarification. I see his point.

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