Prague has some oddities in stone and metal. A few look shocking, and others have bizarre tales to tell. Here, the list of quirky sculptures to admire in the Czech capital.
Prague is home to an array of sculptures that cover a range of subjects and artistic styles. Defiant and controversial, David Černý is probably the most representative Czech sculptor. The Prague-born artist has a knack for simultaneously amusing and offending the public. Many of his weird and controversial sculptures remain on display throughout the city.
The latest kinetic artwork by David Černý is the twisting and reflective sculpture depicting the head of writer Franz Kafka. Installed in 2014, the enormous mirrored bust is comprised of 42 independently driven layers of stainless steel and weighs in at some 45 tons. The piece brilliantly reveals Kafka’s tortured personality and unrelenting self doubt that plagued him his entire life.
At the plaza where the Kafka Museum is located, there is a fountain made by Černý in 2004 titled Piss. Two bronze sculptures pee into their oddly-shaped enclosure. While they are peeing, the two figures move realistically. The stream of water writes quotes from famous Prague residents. The basin of the fountain is made out of bronze, and it is formed in the shape of the Czech Republic.
Inside the Art Nouveau Lucerna Palace, another odd sculpture by Černý can be found. Černý decided to make an ironic twist of the St. Wenceslas statue in the square outside. Hanging upside down from the ceiling, there is a horse that is apparently dead and ready to be rendered. A determined Wenceslas sits on its belly.
Other public artworks by Černý that are worth seeking out are his statues of babies. Three of these large statues can be found at the entrance to the Museum Kampa, and more are on the Žižkov TV Tower. The grotesque babies crawling on the Tower’s exterior are part of Černý’s project to make Žižkov more beautiful, as it has been named one of the world’s most ugly buildings.
The largest monument to Franz Kafka is located at the entrance of the Jewish Quarter (Josefov). This introspective sculpture by Jaroslav Róna is based on a vivid description that appears in Kafka’s short story “Description of a Struggle.” Kafka wrote of a young man riding on another man’s shoulders through the streets of Prague. In Rona’s work, that figure is Kafka himself sitting astride a headless and handless man who is believed to represent his father.
At the base of Petřín Hill, one can find the Memorial for the Victims of Communism by sculptor Olbram Zoubek. This monument is quite different from others, because it carries a weighty message. The base is a staircase, on which seven bronze figures descend. It represents seven “phases” of a man living in a totalitarian state. From the first statue being a full man, up to the last statue where only a part of him remains due to censorship and lack of freedom.
Constructed under the Soviet occupation, Kurt Gebauer’s bronze statue Pond portrays a young, naked woman painted in bright red with her body in an alert pose. While she might look like a futuristic character, this unusual statue was created back in 1989, at a time when there was a large focus (and funding) on producing public art.
Lastly, mention The line for bread. It was the world largest representation of Soviet leader Josef Stalin leading a small parade of workers and scientists. The monument took more than five years to build and stood from 1955 to 1962. It was blown up as Stalin’s personality cult faded. The statue was located on a huge concrete pedestal, which can still be visited in Letná Park.