Maurizio Cattelan’s artwork, titled Comedian, made headlines globally as many sought to understand why it fetched $120,000, a number that rose to $150,000 for a third edition to be sold to a museum. Comedian consists of a single banana duct-taped to the wall of an art gallery as part of Art Basel’s Miami chapter.
Cattelan is a contemporary Italian conceptual artist, known best for the satirical nature and dark humour of his art and the realistic nature of his sculptures (which often depict celebrities and animals in surrealist setups).
Art Basel is a for-profit, privately owned and managed, international art fair held annually in Switzerland, Florida and Hong Kong. This year, the sale of this banana at its Miami edition has sparked much debate online surrounding the age-old question “What is art?”
Comedian has attracted some amount of bewilderment and ridicule online this December, with many posting images of bananas taped to walls in random public spaces. Placed in eight locations around downton New York, these turned out to be a homage to the original by Joseph Grazi, who argues that a real question of art has come up after a long time.
However, another artist has stepped into the debate with a kind of nonchalance to snub the whole affair. David Datuna, a performance artist, was recorded on video (above) pulling the banana off the wall at Art Basel and calmly munching eating it on 8 December, just days after the big sale.
“Art performance,” said Datuna, “Hungry artist.”