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Černý was born in Prague. He gained notoriety in 1991 by painting a Soviet tank pink, to serve as a war memorial in central Prague. As the Monument to Soviet tank crews was still a national cultural monument at that time, his act of civil disobedience was considered "hooliganism" and he was briefly arrested. Another of Černý's conspicuous contributions to Prague is "Tower Babies," a series of cast figures of crawling infants attached to Žižkov Television Tower.
In 2005, Černý created Shark, an image of Saddam Hussein in a tank of formaldehyde. The work was presented at the Prague Biennale 2 that same year. The work is a direct parody of a 1991 work by Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. In 2006, the work was banned twice, first in Middelkerke, Belgium, then in Bielsko-Biała, Poland. With respect to the Belgian situation, the mayor of that town, Michel Landuyt, admitted that he was worried that the exhibit could "shock people, including Muslims" in a year already marred by tensions associated with Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.
In Poland, the reasons for censorship remain ambiguous. The Deputy Mayor and designated cultural censor of Bielsko-Biała, Zbigniew Michniowski, contacted the city-funded gallery, galeria BWA on September 9, 2006 and threatened dire consequences if the artwork were not removed promptly. Jacek Krywult, the mayor of Bielsko-Biała, has not yet fully explained the reasons, but staunchly defends the principle of censorship in Poland.
In response to Michniowski's private order to censor the work, Shark was transported to the Szara gallery, in the nearby town of Cieszyn, Poland. In sharp contrast to the pro-censorship perspective of Mayor Krywult and Deputy Mayor Michniowski, the mayor of Cieszyn, Bogdan Ficek, distanced himself from Bielsko-Biała City Hall's League of Polish Families-inspired values. "I can not see any reason a politician should censor art," Ficek said.
His Entropa, created to mark the Czech presidency of the European Union Council during the first half of 2009, attracted controversy both for its stereotyped depictions of the various EU member states, and because it turned out to have been created by Černý and two friends rather than, as promised, being a collaboration between artists from each of the member states. Some EU members states reacted negatively to the depiction of their country. For instance, Bulgaria decided to summon the Czech Ambassador to Sofia in order to discuss the illustration of the Balkan country as a collection of squat toilets.
- "DAVID ČERNÝ'S METALMORPHOSIS". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
- "Laureates". Jindřich Chalupecký Society. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
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- Official site of David Černý
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