Controversial Czech Artist David Černy Found Guilty of Defamation, Again

He insulted a renowned former museum director.

David Cerny in front of his work Entropa.
Photo: Hana Kalvachova
David Černy has a reputation for courting controversy. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

David Černy has a reputation for courting controversy.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Czech performance artist and sculptor David Černy has been ordered to pay the former director of Prague’s National Gallery, Milan Knizak, 100,000 crowns ($4,060) after he had been found guilty of defamation by Prague High Court.

It is the third time the court has reached the verdict after the Supreme Court overturned the ruling on two separate occasions, only for Prague High Court to uphold its initial judgement.

A Prague City Court had previously ruled that an apology was sufficient compensation, yet the latest high Court ruling maintains that a monetary compensation is to be made. Černy has also been ordered to reimburse Kinzak’s legal fees of 53,000 crowns ($2,150).

Černy was found guilty of insulting former museum director Milan Knizak

Černy was found guilty of insulting former museum director Milan Knizak

The dispute relates to a 2011 TV documentary in which the 48-year-old artist reportedly called the 75-year-old ex museum head “a stuck-up crippled prick,” prompting Knizak to seek an apology and financial compensation from Černy in court.

Knizak is a respected figure in the Czech cultural scene. As a young artist, he was persecuted and locked up by the communists, and later rose to prominence in the role of an influential museum director.

But there’s no love lost between the two men. Thier highly tempestuous relationship culminated in a brawl at a 2000 awards ceremony at Prague National Gallery.

According to Prague Monitor, Černy refused to accept an award from the prestigious institution as long as Knizak was at the helm. The artist had to be ejected from the museum by security and later accepted his award from former Czech president Václav Havel on the sidewalk just outside the building.

In art and in life, Černy courts controversy at every opportunity. Commissioned by the Czech government to mark its EU presidency, the artist’s work Entropa (2009) depicted stereotypes of the 27 member states (at the time): According to the New York Times, the Bulgarian government summoned the Czech ambassador to complain about their country being represented by squat toilets.

In 2013, the BBC reported that the artist erected a giant purple statue of an elongated middle finger aimed at the Prague residence of Czech president Milos Zeman.

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