This week, artist Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian (2019) has been causing a stir both inside and outside the art world. ICYMI: it’s literally just a banana duct-taped to a wall, along with a certificate of authenticity. Priced at $120,000, two of three editions have already been sold from the stand at Art Basel Miami, with the third (upped to $150,000) gaining interest from museums.
To add to the drama though, someone’s come along and eaten it (a pretty predictable development, given the buzz the banana’s been getting, which already prompted the installation of a rope to keep order among visitors).
Although some onlookers thought it was the artist himself eating the banana at first, it was actually the New York-based artist David Datuna. Beside an Instagram video of him peeling the banana and eating it yesterday, he wrote: “‘Hungry Artist’ Art performance by me...”
“I love Maurizio Cattelan artwork and I really love this installation... It’s very delicious.”
Further videos capture a crowd gathering while Datuna deals with gallery staff.
To be fair, it’s a pretty bold move to pick a $120,000 (or $150,000) artwork off a wall and then eat it, but at the same time Datuna’s “performance” doesn’t really mean anything. After all, Perrotin – the gallery housing Cattelan’s banana – had already claimed that they keep a spare in the wings, and assured buyers that they can replace the banana as they see fit.
“He did not destroy the art work. The banana is the idea,” Lucien Terras, Perrotin’s director of museum relations, told the Miami Herald afterwards. If Datuna had eaten a certificate of authenticity, that might have been a different story.
In the end, gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin and a gallery assistant used a banana borrowed from a visitor to replace the one that was eaten. Datuna was removed from the premises but has faced no other consequences (because, again, he didn’t really destroy the artwork).
The idea of the banana lives on.