Prague’s public and street art scene

Penguins facing Prague's old town - Prague's public art scene

Penguins facing Prague’s old town

Prague’s public and street art scene

 

Do you ever feel a stronger connection to cities that support their public art and local street artists? Promoting the local art scene is a good signal to a city’s tourism savvy and art acumen. Such is the case with the city of Prague, a cosmopolitan and art focused metropolis which incorporates large public art in many of its magnificent squares, parks and promenades.  By funding public and local street art to support artists, cities also benefit with visually stimulating and fun places for visitors and tourists to enjoy. Even though Prague is viewed as a traditional city filled with classical architecture, there are many examples of classical to contemporary pieces of sculpture, public commissioned art, graffiti and general street art that complement and fit in perfectly within each neighborhood or setting.

 

Prague's public art scene - David Cerny Babies at Kampa Park

Prague’s public art scene – David Cerny Babies at Kampa Park

 Public art from amusing to irreverent

Many of the public art displays in Prague, fascinate, amuse and draw us in to take a closer look and enjoy them in their environment.  A case in point are these huge bronze babies in Kampa park, surrounded with leafy green trees and overlooking the Vltava river. The three babies are over eight foot tall and draw in children to adults who love to lean, sit and climb on them in a very tactile and sometimes comical way. Created by controversial and famous Czech artist David Cerny, the babies are irreverent with their bar code like faces and their huge scale. It’s always fun to see how people react to sculpture in public places, and the babies are always a popular venue for climbing and enjoying these odd creations.

 

 

Prague's public art scene - David Cerny Babies at Kampa Park

David Cerny Babies at Kampa Park

 

 

 

Dynamic public art displays at the Kampa Museum grounds

Dynamic public art displays at the Kampa Museum grounds

 

Kampa park and museum

A close walk along the shoreline of the Vltava takes you directly to the Kampa museum courtyard, which is filled with large scale animated sculptures in red, blue and black figures, animals and abstract sculpture.  It’s a beautiful space and I wished that I had more time to explore the inside of the museum, but there is a lot of public art to see on the grounds outside and facing the Vltava River including the marching penguins below.

 

 

 

A penguin installation at Kampa park and facing Vltava river

A penguin installation at Kampa park and facing Vltava river

 

 

 

 

Wallenstein Palace, gardens and salla terrena in Prague

Wallenstein Palace, gardens and salla terrena in Prague

Wallenstein palace and salla terrena 

 

A short walk to the Mala Sala brings us to the new city municipal and government offices with a large formal garden and park filled with Mannerism inspired bronze statues that complement the formal palace and administrative buildings. The gardens filled with beautiful tulips and geraniums frame the sculptures well while benches placed symmetrically on the paths are for relaxing and enjoying these lovely views. Formerly the Wallenstein palace and salla terrena which are the garden pavilions, frescoes and stuccos around the palace, the palace is now used as the Senate for the Czech Republic.

 

Wallenstein Palace, gardens and salla terrena in Prague

Wallenstein Palace, gardens and salla terrena in Prague

 

 Jewish District

Memorial sculpture to Franz Kafta, Jewish district, Prague

Memorial sculpture to Franz Kafta, Jewish district, Prague

 

Just across the way in the Jewish district are more amazing and slightly more contemporary sculpture with a piece dedicated to the city’s famous writer and Prague native, Franz Kaftka. Created by Czech sculptor Jaroslav Rona in 2003, the piece shows a smaller man riding on top of another man which represents a segment in Kafka’s story, “Description of a struggle”.

 

 

UnUtero. by David Cerny in Prague

UnUtero. by David Cerny in Prague

 

Another prominent and slightly bizarre public art sculpture is found in the main roundabout of the Jewish District by artist David Cerny. The public art pieces is made completely of stainless steel panels, resembling a large pregnant women called UnUtero. There is an entry point below to crawl into the woman’s stomach so you can experience what being in a womb would be like. But for some reason, I couldn’t see myself crawling from underneath to enter the sculpture in this public venue.

 New Town

Franz Kafka head by David Cerny in Prague

Franz Kafka head by David Cerny in Prague

 

 

One of my favorite pieces of David Cerny’s public art pieces is located in a modern mall complex in the newer section of the city. It represents Franz Kafka’s head and is a revolving kinetic piece. The giant stainless steel head is sliced into sections which rotate around in non linear circles. It’s a unique sculpture with the dissected head moving and creating a changing pattern,  creating cool reflections and unusual sounds that add to the visual experience. Below is a You Tube image of the rotating head.

You Tube Video work by K on sun – David Cerny

 

Some of David Cerny’s work take more of political bent and satire including this piece in one of the oldest shopping arcades off Wenceslas square. The upside down horse with the rider here with St. Wenceslas riding on top is a satirical piece that contrasts with the formal sculpture of the saint fronting Wenceslas square.

 

 

 

David Cerny's Svaty Vaclav (Sculpture) in Prague

David Cerny’s Svaty Vaclav (Sculpture) in Prague

 

David Cerny presents another sculptural piece hanging up high above a walking promenade of the old town. It is another strange tribute art work called Hanging out, also known as the Hanging man. The hanging sculpture depicts Sigmund Freud in a precarious hanging situation above the busy promenade below.

 

David Cerny piece called Hanging out in Prague

David Cerny piece called Hanging out in Prague

 

 

 Large scale street amid construction

 

 Large scale street art close to the Vltava river in Prague

Large scale street art in the New Town, Prague

 

Charles Bridge sculptures

Prague’s iconic bridge over the Vltava River called the Charles bridge has 30 monumental baroque sculptures (replicas) on both sides and along prominent points of the bridge. Depicting important saints and patron saints of the Roman Catholic church, this was the seat of Charles IV, who was the Holy Roman Emperor and the Bohemian king during 1346 – 1378. During his reign, Charles IV made Prague his capital city while holding both titles. Charles then commissioned to have an elaborate bridge be built to connect Prague’s Old Town to the Mala Strana (little quarter) with Prague castle and cathedral proudly sitting above the city, which he also commissioned.

 

Statues on the St. Charles Bridge, Prague

Statues on the Charles Bridge, Prague

 

Charles bridge facing the old town and tower bridge

 

Scenic image of the St. Charles bridge and the Old town of Prague

Scenic image of the Charles bridge and the Old town of Prague

 

One of the most stunning combined pieces of local artwork is located in the old town hall and tower. A wall of custom Czech glass forms a nice background to a human scale sculpture. Both pieces work so well together and have such a nice quiet elegance on the stair landing from the main council hall.  For more interior pictures and stories about Old Town Square and Hall, please take a look my post on the Old Town City Hall of Prague here.

 

Prague Old town hall Czech glass and sculpture

Prague Old town hall Czech glass and sculpture

 

Prague city has definitely showcased some amazing talent in its local artists and given the public wonderful public art and spaces to enjoy and be inspired in this magnificent city. Thanks for visiting today and checking out this post on Prague’s public and street art scene. If you enjoyed reading the post, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons around the post, thank so much.

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11 Responses to Prague’s public and street art scene

  1. Todd @ Visit50 July 16, 2015 at 4:49 am #

    I love these! Prague has been on my list to visit for a while, and I didn’t even know about the art and sculptures.
    Todd
    http://Visit50.com

  2. Michael July 13, 2015 at 5:32 am #

    An excellent photo journal, Noel. However, I would like to emphasize that you showed only some of the art in the most popular tourist places. In fact Prague is a city of many neighborhoods, each with their own public places most of which also contain art works; many of superior quality.
    Since I don’t have examples to link to, perhaps I will have to write a photo journal about public art in the neighborhoods.
    Cheers,

  3. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} July 11, 2015 at 11:48 am #

    The penguin parade and the revolving Kafka head are my favorite sculptures of the ones you showed us. Frankly, I’m a little freaked out by the babies’ faces and think that I just might crash my car trying to get a longer look at UnUtero. Thanks for sharing these modern pieces in what I’ve always pictured as a very traditional city.

  4. Paula McInerney July 10, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    This could be my favourite Prague article of yours. I love ‘hanging out in Prague’, and all of the other art works.

  5. Kathryn Burrington July 10, 2015 at 6:01 am #

    It’s a long, long time since I visited Prague and I’m sure most of these pieces weren’t there then. While many of them look wonderful I have to say I’m not keen on the bright yellow penguins spoiling the lovely historic view across the water. It’s not that I don’t like them in themselves but i’d like to see them in a park setting or somewhere more modern. Great pictures as always.

  6. eileen g July 10, 2015 at 3:31 am #

    This is very cool. When I visited Prague it was still trying to figure out its post-communism identity, but I could imagine it evolving in this direction and I’m glad it has. the city knows how to balance classic and quirky well.

  7. Rhonda Albom July 10, 2015 at 1:46 am #

    I want to travel with you some day, you find the coolest things. I loved Prague and saw about half of the artwork you show here. Those babies are incredible.

  8. Ruth - Tanama Tales July 9, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

    I have to say all these works of art are very interesting. It is the first time I see photos of some of them. The penguins have to be my favorite.

  9. Andrea Gerak July 9, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    Your photos with this yellowish hue give back the atmosphere of Golden Prague very well!

    Another aspect of street art here is the musicians and other artists performing all over the places. But that would deserve maybe an entire post 🙂

  10. Suze The Luxury Columnist July 9, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    I can honestly say I love Hanging out in Prague – the sculpture, that is! I didn’t know David Cerny but he seems really talented and I like the other sculptors’ work too

  11. Nancie July 9, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    Great collection of art. I remember the babies on Kampa Island, although there were no people around playing the day I was there. I don’t remember the penguins. They’re cute!

I look forward to hearing from you and continuing our discussion with any comment you would like to add