Banana duct-taped to a wall sells for $120,000 at Art Basel
August 5, 2020
A banana duct-taped to a wall has sold for $120,000 (£91,550) at one of North America’s most prestigious art shows, with another version of the artwork expected to sell for $150,000 (£114,460).
The prized installation, by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, was unveiled at the Art Basel Miami Beach on Wednesday by the Parisian contemporary art gallery Perrotin.
It is not the first time Cattelan’s work has made headlines. An infamous 18-carat lavatory, entitled “America” drew huge crowds when it went on display at New York’s Guggenheim museum in 2016. It was installed at Blenheim Palace in September but stolen just hours later.
Despite it being Cattelan’s first contribution to an art fair in 15 years, the gallery appeared taken aback by the popularity of the artist’s latest piece.
“It’s a miracle; I don’t know how this happened…When we started to work together I had to fight to convince collectors one by one to buy his work,” the gallery’s founder Emmanuel Perrotin told artnet.com.
When two editions of the piece promptly sold for $120,000, the vendors decided to offer the third and final piece for $150,000. At least two institutions are reportedly interest in purchasing it.
However, potential owners have not been given and advice on what to do if the work begins to decompose. “If the banana moulds, a decision on that will be made on site,” the gallery said.
Entitled "Comedian", the artwork is comprised of a banana purchased in a Miami supermarket and held to the wall with a single piece of duct tape.
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The talk of the town in Miami right now is Maurizio Cattelan’s “Comedian,” a banana 🍌 duct taped to the wall. Two have already sold for $120,000 at Perrotin 😉 read more, including about the banana my husband, @nnddmmyy, hung on his dorm wall for two years, on Artnet News, link in bio @artnet @galerieperrotin @mauriziocattelan @artbasel #art #conceptualart #banana #sculpture #artbasel #artbaselmiamibeach #artbaselmiami #artfair #artgallery #artwork #whatisart #isthisart #miami #miamibeach #florida #miamiflorida #mauriziocattelan #perrotin #galerieperrotin #artist #bananapeel #ducttape #artnetnews #artcollector #vippreview #artjournalism #artjournalist #openingday #artgallery #gallery #artworld
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Despite the title of the piece, Perrotin insists the work is not a joke, with everything from the shape of the banana to its placement in the installation given a great deal of consideration.
Cattelan himself has offered no direction on how to interpret the work, but MrPerrotin previously told CNN the bananas are "a symbol of global trade, a double entendre, as well as a classic device for humour".
The installation has fast become one of the most talked-about works at this year’s Art Basel, with several viewers lining up to take selfies with the piece. One passerby was heard declaring the work "the best of the show". However some art fans were less than impressed, with one, Weezie Chandler, telling local media: “You can do anything and once you’re established you can get away with it.”
The gallery said Cattelan spent a year working on the piece and had originally envisioned a sculpture shaped like a banana.
"Every time he travelled, he brought a banana with him and hung it in his hotel room to find inspiration. He made several models: first in resin, then in bronze and in painted bronze," the gallery said in a statement.
Ultimately, the gallery said, Cattelan decided a real banana was the perfect fit.