Everyone knows that art is subjective. But after a banana duct-taped to a wall at a Miami art festival sold for $120,000 this week, many people have been left saying, “what?”
That’s right — an actual, edible, real-life banana displayed at the prestigious Art Basel Art Fair fetched more money in one day than many people could even dream of having in their bank accounts.
The art piece is aptly called, “Comedian,” and is the work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Although he has worked with taxidermied animals and marble in his past to create sculptures, this piece is not an artistic recreation, but is literally a strip of tape and a fruit.
The banana was bought at a grocery store in Miami.
It may look more like the decorative attempts of a college student on an exceptionally limited budget, but the piece — which has multiple versions — has already sold two copies.
Clearly, some have found it a-peeling.
Opinions online have been split on the banana. While some find humour in the piece, others have expressed outrage at the apparent misuse of wealth.
One Twitter user posted a picture of a banana taped to a shoe, writing that “bidding starts at $100k”.
The controversy may be the point of the piece, however.
Perrotin, the gallery behind the banana being shown in Art Basel, put out a press release on Dec. 4 explaining that the piece “offers insight [into] how we assign worth and what kind of objects we value.”
Cattelan’s previous work has included a fully functional solid gold toilet titled ‘America;’ which recently hit the headlines after it was stolen from Winston Churchill’s birthplace.
According to the Guggenheim’s biography of Maurizio Cattelan, he was born in Padua in 1960, and much of his artwork over the years has been aimed at mocking public figures and distorting common objects and symbols.
The “America” was intended to make fun of both the American dream and excessive wealth. The fact that it could be used as a toilet and was not merely a non-functioning sculpture was a reminder of “the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity,” the Guggenheim says.
The Perrotin release points out that as the banana itself is real, it will inevitably decay.
“If the banana moulds, a decision on that will be made on site,” the gallery said.
There is a third copy of the piece, and it is expected to sell for an even higher price: $150,000.
Fallen in love with the concept, but don’t have the cash? Never fear. DIY is here.
The average retail price of a kilogram of bananas in Canada is around $1.50, according to Statista. Assuming there’s around seven or eight bananas in a bunch, you could theoretically recreate Cattelan’s “Comedian” in the comfort of your own home roughly 600,000 times before you even approached what one person spent on the original.