Artists of Prague

November 22, 2011

Cerny prague babies

During my usual destination research on Prague, the first word that jumped out at me was bohemian. No stranger to the arts and culture of an unconventional lifestyle, two things often described by this term, I was surprised to learn that a Bohemian is also a Czech person and describes the language in general. To call Prague an artistic city is a massive understatement. A wide variety of artists have lived and created here, from literary masters to painters to musicians.

guns young art prague

The provocative entrance of the Artbanka Museum of Young Art. Photo by stommy from Flickr.

Sadly, we visited this vibrant, historic city when the weather’s cold and the fog is set in. I feel I missed out on some of that incredible beauty everyone raves about. But should one find himself in Prague during these chilly months, all is not lost. Check out a very warm and fabulous aspect of Prague: its art scene. Sure, there’s the unmissable, old, historic art and architecture all around town, but here are 10 places to experience the newer and the new.

Artbanka Museum of Young Art – Cutting-edge, provocative contemporary art from Czech and Slovak artists (including students) of the last few decades, exhibited in a baroque palace near the Charles Bridge. www.amoya.cz

David Cerny – Visitors to Prague can find this quirky, controversial artist’s work in several public locations around the city. Most well-known are the Piss sculpture near the Kafka Museum, the upside down horse sculpture in the Lucerna Passage and his giant babies crawling up the Zizkov Tower. www.davidcerny.cz

Cerny prague babies

Cerny’s giant crawling babies. Photo by quinet from Flickr.

Frank Kafka Museum – Though often considered a German writer because he wrote in that language, Kafka was actually born in Prague and lived there. His intriguing expressionist works are very influential and this popular museum draws visitors into his world through audiovisual exhibitions, diaries, drawings, first editions, letters, manuscripts, photographs and 3D installations. kafkamuseum.tyden.cz

Futura Project – Dedicated to exhibitions and supporting domestic and intenational artists with studio space and residence programs, this project consists of several parts. The Center for Contemporary Art Futura offers three floors of exhibition space. Check the website to see what’s on. www.futuraproject.cz

John Lennon Wall – Located in Mala Strana near the French Embassy, the history of this wall is as interesting as the ever-changing works painted onto it. Since the 1980s people have decorated it with graffiti and song lyrics in response to the stifling atrocities of Communism and today to keep Lennon’s messages of hope and love alive.

John Lennon Wall Prague graffiti

The John Lennon Wall features graffiti with the messages of peace and love. Photo by rot ist die farbe der hoffnung from Flickr.

Kampa Museum – This collection of modern and contemporary art with permanent and temporary exhibitions showcases the work of both Czech and international artists. Children will love the practical education programs. www.museumkampa.com/en/ 

Leica Gallery – This gallery showcases not only the work of renowned photographers but also provides educational opportunities such as workshops, seminars and lectures for amateur as well as professional photographers. www.lgp.cz/en.html

Meet Factory – This project marries the fine arts disciplines, including dance, film, literature, music and theatre. It houses a residential program focussed on presenting national and international contemporary art through its exhibition spaces and theatres. Keep an eye on the website to catch one of the 300 public events hosted here annually. meetfactory.cz/en/default.aspx

sculptor Prague Royal Gardens

A sculptor in the Royal Gardens. Photo by Suzanne Hamilton from Flickr.

Mucha Museum – This Czech artist’s distinctive style hasn’t always been appreciated. Best known for his series, The Slav Epic, Mucha painted mostly beautiful, feminine women in flowing robes, adorned with flowers and halos. The museum houses posters, panels, original sketches, paintings, drawings, memorabilia and a documentary film. mucha.tyden.cz

Museum of Czech Cubism – Paintings, sculptures, furniture, drawings, prints and applied art that can’t be found anywhere else in Europe are on show inside the cubist Black Madonna House in Prague’s centre. Short-term exhibitions accompany these on the fifth floor. www.ngprague.cz/en/9/sekce/house-at-the-black-madonna

During our time in Prague we stayed at the romantic, luxurious Savic Hotel. A member of the Great Hotels of the World Premium Collection, this deluxe hotel offers every comfort and amenity for a wonderful stay in the Czech capital.

Have you visited Prague? What was your favourite thing to do there?

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  • Anonymous

    I don’t know which I like more – the giant babies or the guns…

  • http://manonthelam.com/ Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    I went to a bar called the Meat Factory once. Oh wait, you’re talking about the “Meet” Factory. Never mind… :)

    Great post!

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      Haha – I’m sure there’s a great story there ;)

  • http://twitter.com/swgraphic Sarah Wu

    Love the art works, very impressive

  • http://www.thetravelchica.com Stephanie – The Travel Chica

    I missed out on the art in Prague (because I was too young and clueless to know about it).  Looks like the type of art I would really enjoy.

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      Ah, you must go back then =)

  • http://twitter.com/thismyhappiness Jenna Francisco

    I’m glad you highlighted that Prague has long been a city with a rich artistic culture (including music, literature, etc.).  People who enjoy the Mucha Museum should also know that the city is full of art nouveau details that you can see for free. 
    This is a great overview of art in Prague!

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      Thanks, Jenna – wish we had time to see more of it! =)

  • http://www.kylehepp.com/blog/ Kyle

    Woah, that looks like some random and interesting art! I like art that isn’t too pretentious or trying to hard to be un-understandable to the normal human being. Giant guns hanging from the sky seem to fall into the category of the kind of weird/cool art that I enjoy.

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      Me too, Kyle! =)

  • http://ouroyster.com/ Jade

    I havn’t been to prague yet but its high on the list! That revolver installation is really cool!

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      I recommend going in the warmer months – hard to see the beauty when it’s foggy and we missed out on things like walking in the parks and a river cruise.

  • Technosyncratic

    Those crawling babies are so strange!  Aren’t there also some crawling up the Žižkov Television Tower?  Hysterical.

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      Yes, that’s right – so bizarre! =)

  • http://www.sophiesworld.net Sophie

    Long time since I’ve been in Prague for museums and the like. Can see it’s about time for a new look. Lots of exciting art here.

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      It sounds like they have some exciting residence programs that bring in amazing talent! =)

  • http://www.emilyinchile.com/ emilyinchile

    I love the artwork in this post!

  • http://www.groundedtraveler.com Andrew

    The Mucha museum was actually pretty good. I really love his art.

    The Lennon wall was fascinating, but not for obvious reasons. 1) It is way more difficult to find than we had anticipated. Thus we saw a lot of cool things on the way. 2) I like the little graffiti tree on the bottom left side and the rest kind of feels like chaos. 3) We watched a group of 10 girls with Texas accents try to build a human pyramid in front of it.

    The peeing statues in front of the Kafka museum are great. They apparently swivel and pee the names of Czech authors.

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      That human pyramid would have been something!

  • http://vagabond3.com Jade

    That kneeling statue is pretty awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/fotoeins Henry Lee

    Andrea, you’ve provided a great summary to some very accessible art in Praha!  

    It’s also very interesting to seek out “holes in the wall” in the Old Town, New Town, and Mala Strana (especially, south towards Andel and Smichov) with little galleries and workshops.

    David Cerny’s work is spread out in Praha!  In addition to the works you’ve described:

    * there’s a figure of Sigmund Freud “hanging” in mid-air around the corner from Bethlehem Chapel in Old Town (Stare Mesto).  Not surprisingly, the piece of art is called “Viselec” (“Hanging Out”).  

    * In the back-court of the German Embassy in Mala Strana (Little Quarter) stands a Trabant on Four Legs to represent the thousands escaping East Germany in late-1989, camping here at the former West German Embassy, and seeking a way to the West.

    * At the Kafka Museum in Mala Strana, you mentioned the two peeing statues, which ‘empty’ into a pool in the outline of the Czech Republic.  When I visited the sculpture in 2010, this work still had its own mobile-number, to which when a SMS/text-message is sent, the statues stop and proceed to spell out the SMS/text message.  And yes, I sent the text: “I love you, Prague” which was spelled out in smoothly into the pool below.

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      Thanks, Henry! These tips are awesome – next time we go back we’ll have to see more =)

  • http://www.travelocafe.com Laura

    I miss Prague. It always feels good to go back to Prague. Love the article. Thank you.

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Laura! =)

  • http://grrrltraveler.com/ GRRRL TRAVELER

    Nice breakdown and I love that you occasionally showcase artsy places. I guess I don’t often associate the Czechs with art. Not sure why not though given their history. The Artbanks and Meet Factory seems like places I’d probably want to check out. I love contemporary art!

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com/ Andrea and John

      So do I!! So many places to explore for that in Prague =)

  • http://fieldtripswithsue.com sue

    Love the idea of the John Lennon wall.

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