25 July 1991

Why a pink tank made Prague see red

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One night in the summer of 1991, a young Czech artist named David Cerny went out onto the streets of Prague with some friends and painted a Soviet tank pink. The action caused a row that extended throughout Czechoslovakia, a country that had yet to divide into Slovakia and the Czech Republic. It had international ramifications too. Published in the Guardian 25 July 1991. A fuller version of the article appears in my book Tank: The Progress of a Monstrous War Machine (2000).


Until a few weeks ago, a Soviet IS-2 tank stood on a three-metre high stone plinth in a square in the Smichov district of Prague. Dedicated to the memory of the Soviet soldiers who had died during the liberation of Prague in May 1945, this wartime relic, still identified as Tank No. 23, was a well established part of the scene. Its barrel reached out imperiously over cars and passersby; and it was surrounded by trees, herbaceous borders and a couple of flag-poles used on those regular occasions when the communist authorities celebrated the Soviet liberation of their city . . .

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 25th, 1991 at 4:49 pm and is filed under Art & its applications, Articles General, Czecho-Slovakia, War & peace. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.