“It’s a cross-section of my career”: David Černý gets own museum

Sculptor David Černý is known to many visitors to Prague for his babies on Žižkov TV Tower and moving Kafka head in the downtown area. Now the colourful artist has a brand new museum – Musoleum – showcasing a cross-section of his works in a former distillery in the Smíchov district. I spoke to Černý there ahead of Saturday’s opening.

David Černý | Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International

“The idea is to get rid of my stuff which was filling up my studio, so it’s partly of course also a storage.

“That was actually the original name that I called it – then I swapped for Musoleum.

“Also behind it is the fact that a friend of mine, who is the owner of the Trigema group, bought this property, which was falling apart for almost 30 years – it was the investment of one British guy who bought it for almost nothing in I think ’92 or ’93 and then just left it.

Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International

“Marcel Soural, the owner of Trigema, bought the whole property and this building was actually preserved, plus the chimney.

“Because I’m also the co-architect of the whole complex which will be surrounding this building, we were thinking about what to do with this preserved building.

“So we decided to do something with culture, whatever, a museum.

“And after many discussions it ended up like, Why don’t we do your show here [laughs]?”

There are many classic David Černý pieces here and also smaller versions of, for example, Entropa or the London bus doing push-ups. How did you select the pieces? How much do you feel they represent your career?

Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International

“The stuff you see here is mostly gallery work, or interior work.

“And that’s not really the majority of my work – my work is mostly outdoor installations.

“OK, there are a few pieces which might be considered as outdoor also, and a few models for the bigger stuff.

“That’s probably one part of the answer. The second is that it’s really like a cross-section of my artist’s career.

“Because a few things are from the time when I was 18 [laughs].”

There’s one room that’s dedicated to your building projects, with little models. That’s what you’ve been doing in recent years. Is that where you feel…?

Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International

“Also the speakers. One of my favourite pieces actually are the high-end speakers, which you can see there [in the same room].

“They’re called SAX.”

And about the building work – are these big building projects your main focus now?

“No, I wouldn’t say so.

Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International

“I’m working on a few projects around the world in this moment, and that’s just one part of my work.”

A lot of visitors to Prague love your work, for example the revolving Kafka head or the black babies on Žižkov TV Tower. How are you hoping to attract those people to come all the way out here to Smíchov to your Musoleum?

“Well, I hope that they will find out that there’s nothing else to do in Prague and will then come to see my Mausoleum.

“Because that’s the reality.”

Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International