Historic Lennon Wall in Prague painted over/ Zmizela Lenonova zed v Praze - CzechmatediaryHistoric Lennon Wall in Prague painted over/ Zmizela Lenonova zed v Praze - Czechmatediary
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Historic Lennon Wall in Prague painted over/ Zmizela Lenonova zed v Praze

leadI am not sure if you are aware of the cruel fact that the  historic Lennon Wall in Prague is simply GONE. In order for you to understand why I capitalized those words, let me tell you a little bit of background info.

After John Lennon was assasianted in 1980, an unnamed artist painted a beatiful portrait of Lennon along with some of the Beattles lyrics. Of course, this was during a deep Communism, so Western images were strictly forbidden. The painting got quickly covered by some posters by the Czech police like nothing ever happened. Well, for some reason, John Lennon did never go away and became a symbol of freedom. Every time the Communist covered him someone would come back in the middle of the deep night and painted yet another image of John. And it would be like this until 1989 when the Velvet Revolution broke through the totalitarian regime. Thereafter the John Lennon Wall became not only the symbol of freedom but a new favorite tourist spot. Every time you read one of those ‘Top 10 places to visit in Prague’, the Wall was bound to be one of them.


On November 17th of last year a group of students from FAMU (University for Film Arts) decided to make an art stand and painted the wall completely white with 3 sole words printed in black: “WALL IS OVER”. After a mostly negative (somethimes very angry) response from the crowds and after being labeled as ‘vandals’, the FAMU students explained their resoning behind this strange act:

“Twenty-five years ago, one big totalitarian wall fell … Students of art schools are expressing their commemoration of (1989) and opening room for new messages of the current generation.”

Hmm…..I am not sure how I feel about this. I mean these 18 year old kids were born like in 1996 which is only like 3 years ago in my mind ;). Do they really understand and get the whole political/historical era? Do they have the right to do this? What do you think??

CZ: Nevim, jestli jsem ta z poslednich, ale pouze nedavno jsem se dozvedela, ze Lenonova stena u Male Strany uz proste neni! Nejaci studenti z FAMU se rozhodli stenu premalovat na bilo a nechali tam jen 3 osamela slova: “WALL IS OVER”. Jejich prapodivny akt byl vysvetlen tim, ze pred 25-ti lety spadla zed Berlinska, ale je jina doba; doba na nove umeni.

Maji nejaci 18ti leti prcci pravo na to, aby smazali neco tak vyznamneho? Jsou dostatecne stari, aby vubec pochopili, co provedli?

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11 comments… add one
  • neil January 17, 2015, 8:59 am

    The wall is the same as it was before. It took less than one week to be re-graffittied.

  • Tanja January 17, 2015, 7:05 pm

    Yeah, but the history of it is gone. I am not surprised they are getting negative emails from people. Plus, who are they to decide this kind of stuff? I am sorry but to me it is a little bit of a self-absorbing move.

  • Brad January 18, 2015, 1:42 pm

    I think the Art Students had no reason to do this and who gave them the Right to do it? In taking matters into their own hands I think they destroyed the original history of the Wall as Tanja said. Although the Wall had been re-graffittied the History is gone forever.

  • neil January 19, 2015, 1:45 am

    The wall is the same. The students added a small layer of paint just as a graffiti artist would. The new art is a graffito. The old art is still there.

  • Romana January 19, 2015, 10:25 am

    Did any one ever have the right to paint on the wall? Slamming the students for expressing themselves as everyone did is equivalent (slightly) of what was happening during deep communism. John Lennon stands for freedom. This is what freedom looks like. Live and let live. Moje dve koruny…

  • Tanja January 19, 2015, 12:00 pm

    It is a freedom of expression, however that does not mean the free choice cannot be a stupid choice (which in my opinion was). Moreover, the wall is a private property now, not a property of a state as it was during communism.

  • Lenka January 20, 2015, 9:55 am

    They didn’t destroy it, they just covered it with another layer- which is what’s been going on since its inception, right- layers and layers of art/graffiti? If they knocked the wall down, then that would be different, but they no more destroyed it than other people who have “participated” in the wall over the years. I do think it’s ironic, though, that art students are now filling the role of the Communist police: covering up the free expression of thoughts.

  • Tanja January 20, 2015, 11:16 am

    Ha! That’s a good point, Lenko.
    I am just saying, if I was one of those artists that got covered by that paint, i would be ticked off.

  • Lenka January 22, 2015, 6:51 am

    Philosophy aside, I see your point, of course: it was completely obnoxious, but I’m sorry to say that nothing really surprises me anymore when it comes to this generation of kids- the amount of ego is staggering. I blame it on Twitter and Facebook- it’s an “all-about-me” culture these days. It’s sad, and pathetic- and… sad. Anyway I think it’s that narcissism that probably made them think it was completely acceptable to do something like that. When you’re THAT self-involved, consideration for other people tends to go to the wayside.

  • Tanja January 22, 2015, 7:36 am

    Lenko, you are so right about that ‘me’ culture. How about bringing that bucket of paint somewhere where it is needed?

  • Jamie July 11, 2015, 7:03 am

    I always hated that wall, from the first time I saw it in 1987. The Czechs thought the guy was for “freedom”, but he supported the Soviet-organized peace movement to pressure the U.S. to leave Vietnam (where they were winning) and allow the communists to take over there and start imprisoning and murdering people who were for freedom. (As one American peace activist wrote several years ago, “We didn’t just want the U.S. to leave Vietnam; we wanted the communists to win.”)

    I liked the Beatles until I lived in the ČSFR -> ČR and experienced the unhealthy obsession Czechs had with them. My best way to explain it is that under communism, with limited outside information, the Czechs were viewing Western culture though something like a pin hole in a piece of cardboard. Because the pin hole was so small, whatever they pointed it at filled their vision and distorted their idea of what it was like on the outside. The Beatles were allowed to be seen through the pin hole, but all the musicians they derived their music and their ideas from were not, so Czechs treated them as some kind of unique gods.

    This also distorted Czechs’ English education, as I saw right after communism and heard Czech people’s English constantly peppered with Beatles lyrics. If there was a normal way to say something and also a Beatles lyric, they learned only the Beatles lyric, so instead of knowing how to say, “Leave it there,” “Forget about it,” “Don’t worry about it,” etc., they only said, “Let It Be.” This kind of speech even made it into the comics in the English-language newspapers in Prague.

    John Lennon wasn’t a symbol of freedom any more than Chuck Berry, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Jerry Lee Lewis or Marvin Gaye were. He was a guy whose music had been approved for sale by the communist authorities, partly because of his support for movements promoting communist takeovers in other places. It’s time to move on, and I think the art students did the right thing. They had a good point. Czechs should stop fetishizing the guy.

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