Controversial artist David Cerny

Černý flips bird at Czech prez

Bad-boy artist places 10-meter tall rude gesture in view of Prague Castle

Controversial artist David Černý is giving Prague Castle the finger. His latest installation is a purple hand sitting on a barge in the Vltava River near the National Theater. The 10-meter tall hand’s oversized middle finger is unmistakably giving an impolite international sign toward the Castle, seat of Czech President Miloš Zeman.

Zeman is not currently in the country and through a spokesperson said that he did not want to comment on something he has not seen. Černý is well-known for his dislike of Zeman, and helped in the presidential campaign of his rival, Karel Schwarzenberg, in last year’s direct presidential elections. The new artwork was made at Meetfactory and towed into place in the early morning hours of Oct. 21. The move comes just days before a special Oct. 25-26 election for Parliament.

Černý discussed his dislike of Zeman with The Prague Post in September. “Our president is just another reason not to live in the Czech Republic,” he said. “The political system here is not good, most people know that. I think I’d be happy to live in New York and not come back. I mean, I would come back, maybe for like three months in the year or something.”

He also hinted at that time that he had more provocative art up his sleeve. “I am proud of my work,” he said in September. “But the thing I am proud of the most, is not what I have done, but what I know I am capable of doing in the future. The future is what I have to the most proud of. You will just have to wait and see.”

This isn’t the first time Černý has used a middle finger in his art. His first famous work, The Pink Tank, also had that gesture placed on top of a Soviet tank that was part of a monument. It was supposedly the first Soviet tank to enter Prague in 1945. Černý’s modifications came shortly after the Velvet Revolution. He also used the finger gesture in combination with barbed wire for an anti-communism campaign.

He made headlines with Entropa, a piece made to coincide with the Czech presidency of the European Union in 2009. It was supposed to have works from artists across Europe but was instead all his own work, with thinly veiled insults for most countries.

But not all of his work hits people’s nerves. The babies crawling up the Žižkov TV tower and the upside-down St. Wenceslas in the Lucerna pasáž have proven to be popular tourist attractions.

A show of his more recent work starts Oct. 24 at Dvorak Sec Contemporary gallery on Dlouhá 5 in Prague 1.

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