The hanging man of Prague, what does it mean?

The Hanging Man of Prague is an amazing sculpture that we can see in the capital of the Czech Republic. Is about a work of art that seeks controversy and surprise, but also reflection of everyone who looks at it.

When you pass through the center of Prague, look at the facades, the monuments and the shop windows, but also at the sky. Suddenly you will get a big surprise: between the roofs you will discover a “hanging man”. Don’t worry, it’s a sculpture!

Where is the hanging man of Prague

As we have anticipated, the work of the hanging man is in the very center of Prague. Specifically, we can find it on Husova Street.

Indeed, it is located in the historic center of Prague, in the heart of Stare Mesto or Old Town. It is a place that any tourist who travels to the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic passes by.

A David Cerny Masterpiece

The author of this contemporary work of art in the historical heart of Prague is David Cerny. It is the most popular sculptor in the country, and also the most controversial in recent decades.

Cerny has several works scattered around the city, although possibly the one with the hanging man is the most famous. However, he has also made others that allude to other key elements of Czech culture, such as the emblematic Saint Wenceslas in his main square or the writer Franz Kafka.

In fact, in the hanging man too evokes another character of Czech origin: neither more nor less than Sigmund Freud, who became famous outside the country but was born in the Moravian lands, which are currently integrated into the territory of the Czech Republic.

Freud hanged?

We have already commented on the controversial character that many of David Cerny’s works tend to have, something that also happens with this creation from 1996. He dared to place Sigmund Freud holding on to a beam with only one hand, and from there he looks into the abyss. Hopelessly, the character puts his other hand in his pocket, knowing there is no escape.

As a rule, Cerny is not an author who is characterized by making the meaning of his works very clear.. It is usually quite cryptic and only provides brushstrokes so that there can be different interpretations. And so it is with his hanged man from Prague.

for some it is a representation of Freud, the quintessential psychoanalyst who, in turn, suffered numerous traumas throughout his life. Among them, he was terrified of a slow and anguished death, so when he was already a sick old man without a cure, he asked his trusted doctor to help him die.

However, there are those who see in this work in Prague a reflection of the idea that the intelligentsia is hardly important nowadays, and the great geniuses, like Freud, have nothing to do. However, there are other critics who simply see this sculpture as a representation of how fragile or fleeting human life is.

The Hanged Man, a traveling sculpture

From what has been said so far, it can be deduced that there is something more than provocation in the work. There is a reflection on our present. However, the striking of the sculpture sometimes hides that meaning. For example, before settling permanently in Prague, the hanging man was exposed in a similar way in other cities such as Rotterdam, Chicago or London.

On occasion, bystanders even called firefighters alarmed at a possible suicide. And it is that technically we are facing a very realistic work, in which the author has also calculated the effects of perspective and has created a figure of large dimensions, but which with distance acquires human size.

In short, on your next trip to Prague, when you take a walk through its Old Town, be very attentive to see this striking sculpture and try to see what thoughts it inspires you.

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