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Posts tagged ‘Czech art’

Prague’s David Černý: skillful s**t disturber

Considered “enfant terrible” in the European and Czech art scene, David Černý frequently has courted both controversy and amusement from the beginning in 1991 with the Pink (Soviet) Tank. Is he infuriating and crude or enlightened and hilarious? Is he misunderstood social commentator or attention-seeking hooligan? He continues to make art at home in Prague, and provoke strong reactions.

Černý’s creations can be found throughout the Czech capital city. You can decide for yourself if his artwork is inspiring or dull.

  • Babies (Miminka), at 2 locations
  • Brownnosers
  • Embryo
  • Hanging Out (Viselec)
  • Horse (Kůň)
  • K on Sun
  • Piss (Proudy)
  • Quo Vadis?
  • Zátopek’s Legs (Zátopkovy nohy)

Babies (Miminka)

Location: Television Tower, Žižkov.
DPP: Metro A to Jiřího z Poděbrad; tram 11, 13 to Jiřího z Poděbrad; tram 5, 9, 15, 26 to Lipanská.

The tower is the tallest structure in Prague with a height of 216 metres above sea-level. But I think it’s the faceless babies which are the true attraction. First installed on the tower in 2000, the sculpture consisting of ten fibreglass babies became a permanent exhibition in 2001. In October 2017, “Babies” were removed from the tower for long-needed cleaning and repairs. The sculpture is scheduled to return to the tower in spring 2018. More information in English about visiting the TV Tower can be found here.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 14 March 2009.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 14 March 2009.

námesti Jiřího z Poděbrad, Přemyslovská, Prague 3, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Žižkov tower (Žižkovská věž), at Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad and Přemyslovská. Photo: 4 August 2013.


Babies (Miminka)

Location: Museum Kampa, Malá Strana.
DPP: tram 12, 15, 20, 22, 23 to Hellichova.

Residing next to the museum on Kampa Island are three bronze “babies”. Check out the creepy slots for faces; yikes.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 6 December 2008.


Brownnosers

Location: Galerie Futura, Smíchov.
DPP: Metro B to Anděl, tram 9, 10, 15, 16 to Bertramka.

Two sets of headless bent-over fiberglass figures are found outside towards the (ahem) rear of the gallery; visitors are invited to climb the ladders to inspect each figure. I hear music emanating from an orifice. On this wet cold autumn day, I’m the only one here to ‘suffer’ the voluntary embarrassment of climbing up the stairs and sticking my head into the back end of one of the figures. Inside the circular aperture is a video of two men in masks feeding each other slop to the tune of Queen’s “We Are The Champions”; see video below. In caricature are Vaclav Klaus, who was Czech president (2003-2013), and Milan Knížák, who was director of the Czech National Gallery (1990-2011).

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 6 November 2016.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 6 November 2016.


Embryo

Location: Na Zábradlí at Anenské náměstí (Anna Square), Staré Město.
DPP: Metro A or B, to Můstek; Metro B to Národní třída; tram 2, 17, 18 to Karlovy lázně (southbound); tram 2, 17, 18 to Národní divadlo (northbound).

Hidden in a corner of the Old Town near Charles Bridge is a little plaza named after Saint Anna. Something resembling an “embryo” glows red on the side of the building for Divadlo Na zábradlí (Theatre on the Balustrade). Is there some mystery inside to be revealed or something more insidious to be unleashed to the world?

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

This photo and below: 5 November 2016.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Is something lurking in the glowing embryo?


Hanging Out (Viselec)

Location: Husova at Betlémské náměstí (Bethlehem Square), Staré Město.
DPP: Metro A or B, to Můstek; Metro B to Národní třída; tram 2, 17, 18 to Karlovy lázně (southbound); tram 2, 17, 18 to Národní divadlo (northbound).

Look up, waaaaay up. The people around you will look strangely at you: what is he looking? Up above, a well-dressed gentleman in glasses and a suit hangs onto a beam with one arm, his calm steely gaze over you, me, and his surroundings. The man represented is supposed to be Sigmund Freud: what would he have thought about all this? Is his ceaseless gaze judging us with superiority?

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 20 April 2008.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 20 October 2008.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 6 October 2009 with Canon 450D, 70-300 glass, settings: 1/320-sec, f/8, ISO400, 225mm focal length (360mm full-frame equivalent).


Horse (Kůň)

Location: Palác Lucerna, Nové Město.
DPP: Metro A or B, to Můstek; Metro A or C, to Muzeum; tram 3, 5, 6, 9, 14, 24 to Václavské náměstí.

This sculpture of Wenceslas sitting on a dead upside-down horse is a parody of the memorial statue by Myslbek (unveiled 1913, completed 1924) outside at Wenceslas Square nearby. I think the dead beaten horse says a lot about what Cerny thinks about a heroic figure in Czech history with near mythological dimensions. (In 2017, Palác Lucerna was added to the list of Czech National Cultural Monuments.)

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 27 July 2013; compare this sculpture with the more “respectable” one below.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Pomník svatého Václava (Saint Wenceslas statue) by Josef Myslbek. Photo: 2 July 2010 at the top/southeast end of Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square).


K on Sun

Location: OC Quadrio (since 2014), Nové Město.
DPP: Metro B to Národní třída; tram 2, 9, 18, 22, 23 to Národní třída.

At the eastern end of the Quadrio shopping centre (Obchodní centrum, OC) is a large shiny rotating head of Franz Kafka, whose pieces rotate in different directions before coming back together as a whole. The 11-metre tall kinetic piece consists of 42 horizontal layers which can all move independently; see video below. With his face in a constant state of metamorphosis, the sculpture can represent Kafka’s anguish and complicated personality, a giant piece of metal reflecting outwards what might otherwise have been a form of introverted hell.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 5 November 2016.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 5 November 2016.


Piss (Proudy)

Location: Franz Kafka Museum, Malá Strana.
DPP: Metro A to Malostranská; tram 2, 12, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23 to Malostranská; tram 12, 15, 20, 22, 23 to Malostranské náměstí.

Two masculine statues relieve themselves in a metal pool of water in the shape of the map of the Czech Republic. The statues whirl and twirl their “streams” to spell out famous Czech sayings. The sculpture has its own mobile number; a text sent to that number will make the sculpture pause and begin “streaming” whatever that text message is. Located next to the Franz Kafka museum, the sculpture “mocks the idea of art as a cultural enterprise devoted to the national interest.”

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 3 July 2008.


Quo Vadis?

Location: back of German Embassy at Vlašská 19, Malá Strana.
DPP: Tram 12, 15, 20, 22, 23 to Malostranské náměstí.

The “Trabant on four legs” at the rear of the German embassy marks an extraordinary set of events in late-summer/early-autumn of 1989. Thousands of East German refugees made their way into Prague and swarmed into the Embassy of West Germany (at the time) to seek safe passage to the west. Conditions on the embassy grounds quickly deteriorated, and after rounds of talks and negotiations, the various parties and nations agreed to allow people to leave the embassy, sparking this unforgettable scene on the evening of 30 September 1989. “Quo Vadis?” in Latin means “who goes there?”

David Cerny, Quo Vadis?, sculpture, German Embassy, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Back of the German Embassy in Prague. This photo and below: 17 March 2010.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Zátopek’s Legs (Zátopkovy nohy)

Location: DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Holešovice.
DPP: Metro C to Nádraží Holešovice; tram 6, 12 to Ortenovo náměstí.

As part of the “All Hail Sport” temporary exhibition at DOX, Cerny’s sculpture of a lower torso with legs in running motion directly references (Emil) Zátopek. He was perhaps one of the finest Olympians and Czechs about whom people have rarely or never heard.

David Cerny, sculpture, contemporary art, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Photo: 7 November 2016.


Click on the arrow-window icon in the upper-left corner of the map below for the legend.

More: jedno, dvĕ, tři, čtyři, pĕt.

I made all photos and short video clips on multiple visits to Prague in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2016. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-3D9.

Alfons Mucha, Slavic Art Nouveau

ABOVE: “Amants” (1895), poster for actress Sarah Bernhardt and her Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg – 5 Dec 2015 (HL).

One of my favourite artists from the Art Nouveau period is Czech artist Alfons Mucha (“MOOTZ’kha”). He loved strong women, or at the very least, he loved drawing and painting images of strong women, from the unique perspectives of a professional nature (above, Sarah Bernhardt) and a personal nature (below, “The Slav Epic”). I also associate Mucha with Prague, and it’s fitting the Mucha Museum prominently features his 1911 painting of “Princess Hyacinth.”

The meeting at Krizky, The Slav Epic, Alfons Mucha, Narodni Galerie, National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Part of “The Meeting at Křížky” (from “The Slav Epic”, 1916). National Gallery Prague – 30 July 2013 (HL).

Princess Hyacinth, Alfons Mucha, Mucha Museum, Praha, Prague, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Princezna Hyacinta” (Princess Hyacinth, 1911). Mucha Museum, 31 July 2013 (HL).


I made all of the photos above in July 2013 and December 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-8S5.

The Slav Epic, Alfons Mucha, Narodni galerie, National Gallery, Veletrzni Palac, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

My Praha: “The Slav Epic”, Mucha’s Masterpiece

One of the greatest and most important works of Czech art from the early 20th-century was on display in the Trade Fair Palace (Veletržní Palac) in Prague for four years until the end of 2016.

All 20 paintings of “The Slav Epic” (Slovanská epopej) by Alfons Mucha can be viewed in the Czech capital city for the first time in over 80 years. For admirers of Mucha, Art Nouveau and history, the work is easier to reach than ever before and should not be missed.

Mucha’s The Slav Epic is a series of paintings on large canvas, which he completed in 1926. The paintings tell the story and mythology of the Slav peoples, with Mucha imagining the entire work as a commemorative piece to the Czech nation. Each painting spans several metres in both height and width, and stands tall even in a spacious exhibition hall. In every painting, grand scenes and landscapes are shown in a mixture of restrained colours, important figures, and careful details.

Alfons Mucha and his Legacy

Mucha was born in 1860 in the Moravian town of Ivancice, about 20 kilometres southwest of Brno. He worked as an artist in Vienna, Munich, and Paris. In Paris, he began to find success when he produced art posters commercially for advertising and for theatre productions. He is well-known for posters of French actress Sarah Bernhardt and of the “Four Seasons” series. For the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, Mucha designed and painted the interior wall of the Bosnia-Herzogovina Pavilion. He traveled throughout the Balkans to examine the region’s history and culture, planting the seeds for his grand work.

An Epic Accompanies “The Slav Epic”

What does it mean to people and their history when they haven’t been allowed to express themselves freely? For the Czech people under external rule for centuries until the creation of an independent nation in 1918, attempts to establish the concepts of “národ” (nation) and “vlast” (home/country) and to navigate the differences in between often appeared in literature, music, and art. Among many examples is “Má vlast”, a collection of six symphonic “poems” created by Czech composer Bedřich Smetana.

Mucha developed a stronger sense of “Czech nationalism” while he was teaching and producing art in the United States in the early years of the 20th-century. He founded the Slavic Council where he met millionaire Charles R. Crane who provided financial support when work began on The Slav Epic. Mucha spent two decades completing his epic; in the intervening time, individual pieces of the work were shown in Prague, New York, and Paris.

With all the pieces gathered in a single location, The Slav Epic premiered in its entirety to the public in Prague in 1928 on the tenth anniversary of an independent Czech nation.

Mucha donated The Slav Epic to Prague on the condition that the city build an exhibition space solely to display the collection. But the Second World War put on hold further thoughts of building this space. Mucha died in 1939, and as the land was under Nazi occupation shortly afterwards, the work was under threat of being stolen or destroyed. The paintings were hidden, and by 1963, they found their way to a castle in Moravský Krumlov, near Mucha’s birthplace.

The people of Moravský Krumlov believe that The Slav Epic should remain in their town as they have kept the work safe and on display for decades. Because Mucha donated his work to their city, the people of Prague have always urged that The Slav Epic be moved back to the capital. Some have argued that as long as Prague does not have a dedicated space as stipulated by Mucha, the art should remain in Moravský Krumlov. Others have countered that the castle in Moravský Krumlov is insufficient, requiring a great deal of expensive renovation work, and that the town is difficult to reach for visitors.

“The Slav Epic” Returns to Prague

The Slav Epic returned to Prague in 2012 to the same venue where the entire collection was debuted in 1928. The present exhibition in Veletržní Palace’s Grand Hall is based upon the layout intended by Mucha to present an overall view of the history and legends of the Slavic people.

Many of the figures in several of the paintings seem to stare directly (and ominously) at the viewer, suggesting Mucha is pleading with the viewer to take notice of not only the individual painting, but also of how the given story fits within the general narrative and timeline of the epic.

The Mucha masterpiece is presently on display until the end of 2016. As no permanent space has yet been assigned in Prague, what happens next for The Slav Epic remains unclear. But given the work’s own saga, the future for The Slav Epic could amount to another “epic” in the making.


The Slav Epic, Alfons Mucha, Narodni galerie, National Gallery, Veletrzni Palac, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

The Slav Epic, Alfons Mucha, Narodni galerie, National Gallery, Veletrzni Palac, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Top: No.1. The Slavs in Their Original Homeland, 1912. Below: Adam and Eve, of the Slavs.

The Slav Epic, Alfons Mucha, Narodni galerie, National Gallery, Veletrzni Palac, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

No.10. “The Meeting at Křížky”, 1916

The Slav Epic, Alfons Mucha, Narodni galerie, National Gallery, Veletrzni Palac, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

No.20. Apotheosis ‘Slavs for Humanity!’, 1926

The Slav Epic, Alfons Mucha, Narodni galerie, National Gallery, Veletrzni Palac, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Towering Slav, wreathes of freedom and unity.


Exhibition

“The Slav Epic” exhibition was on display at Veletržní Palác (Trade Fair Palace) from December 2012 to December 2016. The fight continues about building a permanent home for The Slav Epic in Prague; the struggle is definitely real. According to a report from Czech News Agency (CTK), Michaela Vrchotova, head of public relations and marketing for the Prague City Gallery, said Mucha’s Epic might return on display in Prague in the Municipal House sometime in 2018.

Much More Mucha

•   Not far from Wenceslas Square, the Mucha Museum provides a quiet place to view a wide selection of Mucha’s artistic work.
•   Mucha produced the stained-glass window called ‘Allegory of the Slav Nation” appearing in St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle.
•   Mucha painted the murals in the Lord Mayor’s Hall in the Municipal House (Obecní dům).
•   Over 120 Mucha posters in Ivan Lendl’s collection is on display at The Municipal House until 10 September 2013.
•   Mucha’s final resting place is in The Slavin in the Vyšehrad cemetery.
•   The Mucha Foundation

I made the photos above on 30 July and 6 August 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-3BC.

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