Name: Lars Vilks
Date of Birth: June 20, 1946
Country of Origin: SE
Lars Vilks is a Swedish artist and activist who is notorious for his controversial drawings of the prophet Muhammad depicted as a dog, which made him the subject of protests, death threats and an assassination attempt.
Born in 1946, Vilks, a self-taught artist, began painting in the 1970s. In 1980, he began creating the large driftwood sculptures for which he is best known. Inspired by the postmodernist conceptual art that was dominating the contemporary Swedish art scene, Vilks’ work is idealistic and not driven by aesthetics. The sculptures Nimis and Arx, located in the Kullaberg nature reserve in Skåne, were subject to dispute with local authorities due to their being constructed without a building permit. Courts ultimately achieved approval to demolish the sculptures, but authorities never acted upon the order. In 1996, Vilks declared the area around the sculptures to be its own independent country, which he named Ladonia.
In the early 2000s, Vilks began producing drawings focused on religious critique with controversial undertones. In 2007, he produced a series of drawings depicting Muhammad as a roundabout dog for an exhibition on “The Dog in Art”, which were subsequently removed from the exhibition and sparked international backlash. Over the next few years, the artist and his associates faced death threats and a foiled assassination attempt for which seven people were arrested in 2010. Since then, the artist has been mentioned on Al Qaeda’s most wanted list, and in connection to multiple shootings and terrorism arrests, leading to his accepting round-the-clock police protection and hiring personal bodyguards.