Artist David Datuna was halfway through the fruit when he was accosted by Peggy Leboeuf, a partner at Perrotin, who exclaimed, “Are you kidding? This is so stupid.”
Art Basel Miami has never been more bananas, quite literally.
The key highlight of the prestigious art fair this year was without a doubt Maurizio Cattelan’s art installation called “Comedian” which features – literally – an overriped banana stuck to the wall with little more than ducttape. Two French collectors have already taken ownership over two of three renditions for US$120,000 a piece. At writing, several museums are bidding for the third and final edition for US$150,000.
Before the hammer dropped on the last bid, artist David Datuna promptly plucked the banana off the wall and ate it, calling the feat “Hungry Artist.”
“This is an art performance,” declared Datuna, a New York-based artist known for large scale mixed media collages and diptychs of celebrities and political figures, as he peeled the overripe banana from the wall.
He was halfway through the fruit when he was accosted by Peggy Leboeuf, a partner at Perrotin, who exclaimed, “Are you kidding? This is so stupid. This is so stupid.”
Gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin turntailed from his way to the airport back to the gallery and showed up visibly upset. It is reported that a fairgoer tried to cheer him up with a new, fresher banana. To what avail, we aren’t quite sure.
Datuna was taken in for questioning, to which he obliged calmly. He claims that what he did was not a publicity stunt, although he did go on to post three videos of his “Hungry Artist” performance on Instagram, which have since amassed notably more likes than the rest of his posts.
Cattelan’s banana installation is among the most talked about pieces at the annual art fair, which draws approximately 70,000 visitors to Miami each December. This isn’t his most far-fetched provocations – others include a functional 18 karat gold toilet, which today sits at the Guggenheim, and a towering sculpture of the middle finger, which adorns the front of the Milan Stock Exchange.
What happened to the art installation, you ask? Twenty minutes after the original banana was eaten, the gallery ducttaped a new banana on the wall, explaining that the piece is not in any way damaged.
“He did not destroy the artwork. The banana is the idea,” explained Lucien Terras, the gallery’s director of museum relations. He explained that each edition of Cattelan’s “Comedian” comes with a certificate of authenticity.
Collectors who paid anything for the piece better hold on to that certificate in this case, as Brooklyn-based artist Joseph Grazi has taken the liberty to recreate the piece around New York City.
Except, he’s called his “The Price of Everything.”
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This is for all my friends that couldn’t make it to miami this year and are missing all the glorious banana controversy. Plus, a “gate” in the artworld?? Is this our first one?? I couldn’t help but participate. Here’s to you Maurizio Cattelan. First time in a long while that the talk of Basel is actually about art, and not celebrities, parties and Instagram. My installation, “The Price of Everything” (thanks HBO) is an edition of 8 bananas scattered around downtown nyc. Try and find one, they’re from Trader Joe’s, and quite delicious. (I go all out when it comes to art supplies..) Now for my annoying and already way too long artist rant: #BananaGate : Most people that follow this page are into art and most likely aware of Cattelan’s $120,000 duct taped banana at Basel this year. Regardless of how much you love or hate it, anyone that’s been to an art fair before knows that most of the artwork is screaming to be seen. Especially today, where the market often veers towards art that actually “looks” valuable. Neon lights, art made of gold and chrome, Infiniti mirrors, etc. “Shiny things”. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Some of the most beautiful and most mind blowing pieces of art I’ve ever seen fall into that category! But, for a 6” x 6” piece of art to draw almost one hundred percent of the art world’s press and attention with just a few dollars worth of mundane materials is almost impossible. Rarely ever does a piece of art go mainstream like this. The banana is basically this year’s Leonardo DiCaprio. Again, love it or hate it, that’s an insane fete. And not an easy one. If it was, we’d all be rich and famous artists. Had the artist installed a breathtaking and beautiful painting, absolutely nobody would be talking about it. And that’s the POINT of art! Conversation. Reflection. Disruption. Instigation. All of it. All of it represented by a banana, some duct tape, and a ridiculous price tag (they all already sold from what I hear) So again, seventeen thousand cheers for @mauriziocattelan for keeping the conversation alive. And even more cheers for the banana that’s most likely already dating Kendall Jenner. #endRant #artbaselmiami