You never know what you’re going to find at the end of a long hallway in an elegant European shopping arcade – but this wasn’t what I expected!
We’d escaped to Prague for a couple of weeks in the dead of winter. And as you’d expect it was cold – bone-breaking cold. But that didn’t stop us. The bargain airline ticket and amazing apartment deal were just too good to pass up.
We bundled up and scurried around town, taking in the sights and ducking into any heated building on our path. In the Nové Město (New Town) we discovered the striking Lucerna Palace near Wenceslas Square, with a chic Art Nouveau shopping arcade flowing through it. So we perused the shops, soaking up the heat, and ended up in a marble-clad atrium illuminated by a stained glass dome. Suspended in midair was a man sitting astride a dead, upside-down horse!
Not your usual mall fare.
Kun (Horse) is a sculpture by controversial Czech artist David Černý, who’s been turning heads and making tongues wag across Europe for two decades. He’s the “shock-jock” of sculptors, with works banned in several countries. Of course, that aroused my interest.
Although Černý rarely comments on the meaning of his work, it’s thought that the Kun sculpture represents St. Wenceslas (the “Good King” of Christmas carol fame and patron saint of the Czech Republic), and is a parody of his “normal” statue in the nearby square. Others posit that since it was created after the end of the nation’s Communist rule, it represents the topsy-turvy days of free enterprise – a far cry from the days when Wenceslas lived.
Černý’s other works are equally amusing in their own tongue-in-cheek ways. Some installations feature giant babies climbing towers and crawling through the woods.
And a recent crowd-pleaser was designed for the London Olympics titled the “London Booster.” Here it is in action.
No matter what your taste is in art, David Černý’s works will certainly make you do a double take!
P.S. “As an aside, on this trip to Prague we learned a valuable travel lesson. Frequently, in the slow days of Christmas and New Years, we’re on the lookout for great travel deals – particularly cheap flights to fun places. We spent a week in Paris one January, and even though it was cold, the city was deserted, and we had a super time.
But on our trip to Prague we learned the lesson that anytime your rationalization to travel starts with the words: “How bad can it be?” … well Brother it can be bad. We were in Prague in early January for what turned out to be a life-threatening, record cold wave all across Russia and Eastern Europe with freezing deaths daily. We probably won’t get much sympathy from a few of our northern readers (a couple of Canadians come to mind), but for a southern duo going from 65°F to -25°F it was quite a shock to the system to say the least. Prague is a magical place, and we plan on returning. But you can bet that next time we’ll pay a bit more attention to the temps. Caveat emptor: there’s a reason when airfares are cheap.” ~James
3. By Prazak via Wikimedia Commons
5. Stephen McKay via Wikimedia Commons
6. By Heinz-Josef Lücking via Wikimedia Commons