That $120K Banana Art Piece Was Bound To End Badly (And Did)
Earlier this week, an artist named Maurizio Cattelan made some really silly art. He duct-taped a banana that he bought at a Miami grocery store to a wall at the Art Basel show in, get this, Miami. He furthermore had the genius to title the piece "Comedian," and we're going to lie awake at night thinking about that for a long time.
It then sold for $120,000, and changed hands a couple more times before the art show was over, eventually fetching $150,000. It spawned a couple memes, mostly starring Lucille Bluth and her wealthy naivete, but that was never going to be the end of the story. How could it have been? Cattelan is a ballsy artist who once offered a gold toilet from an art set titled "America" to the White House, which they naturally declined. Stupidity was about to come out in full force.
First thing's first, Cattelan is a pretty accomplished sculptor and artist, so of course this banana was never going to just be a banana. He apparently took this very seriously, and worked on the idea for over a year. Originally, he was going to make the banana a cast, perhaps out of bronze or resin, but came to the realization that of course it had to be a real banana. Obviously bronze has a little more inherent longevity than the real thing, so the sale of the artwork came with some caveats. The people who bought the piece, along with the two museums that will be getting "artist proofs," were given installation instructions. The folks who paid more for this artwork than a house in Indiana costs have to go and buy their own duct tape and their own banana. What's going on here is that they bought a concept, not the banana itself, and are now able to put that concept on display.
Which is a good thing, too, because that means that Cattelan must have seen into the future of this situation. The first thing that would have happened was that the banana would rot. That's just what bananas given enough time on your kitchen counter. By selling the concept of a banana taped to a wall and a set of instructions, it gives the new owner a means of replacing the banana. The other thing that was possibly going to happen was some kind of vandalism. Bananas are soft, squishy, and according to cartoons, slippery, so it's not hard to imagine some rogue art hater coming up and punching the banana or something.
What really did happen was a New York-based performance artist named David Datuna came out and ate the banana. He did it. He really ate the thing, right in front of stunned onlookers. He then called his performance of eating a displayed banana "Hungry Artist." And because it's very easy to replace a banana, Datuna isn't really in any trouble. He's happy he ate the banana.