Comedian: banana, provocation or real piece of Art?

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18 December 2019

Cattelans' banana: provocation or real piece of Art?

Benedetta Cerri

His works combine performance with sculpture and often include theatrical pieces or provocative actions. This is the case with Comedian, the banana that Maurizio Cattelan attached to a wall with grey adhesive tape and exhibited at the Art Basel Miami contemporary Art fair, selling it for 120 thousand dollars.

The work is inspired by Cattelan's habit of buying a banana while he's on the move and attaching it to a wall to find the right inspiration.

main image cattelan.jpgComedian, Maurizio Cattelan

Belonging to the movement of the Ready Made, a type of Art in which the artist takes possession of an object already available on the market and transforms it into artwork with his signature, Comedian has sparked public opinion and not only...

Who ate the banana and why?


The New York artist, David Datuna, approached the wall, detached the banana and devoured it in front of the audience, repeating several times: "It's very good", he then added on the social media: "I love Maurizio Cattelan's work and I really love this installation. It's delicious."

An artistic performance into another, also defined by Datuna as a real performance. An unexpected gesture that apparently hadn't been agreed either with Cattelan or with the organizers of the fair. In the end, it doesn't matter, because the work had already been purchased even before it was devoured and after the event, it was immediately replaced by another banana, probably less mature. It is no coincidence that the artist would have suggested to the lucky collectors to replace the fruit every 7-10 days.

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This banana taped on the wall has been a source of criticism from newspapers and created a whole debate on the definition of Art. 

Some people like Brian Kelly, critic journalist for the Wall Street Journal,said that Cattelan's banana is not only the last derivation of Duchamp's ready-made but that it was also conceived with the intention of being mocked.


"With his new work, Cattelan has cast her critical gaze on the Art world itself."


Brian Kelly


Brian dwells on the concept of commodification of the Art trade because, having bought for 120 thousand dollars a fruit that will rot, simply because the person who made it is "famous" is indicative: the banana could have been anything, because for the buyer does not count the work, but the mere fact of having purchased it.

Even the critic Francesco Bonami doesn't go easy about the work of the artist. According to the critic, the work is nothing more than the media revolution that has been unleashed around the question, because the work itself does not exist. He also adds that Cattelan's work could be compared to any street artist who "makes giant bubbles."

"If I go to an Art fair and stay there without pants or underwear, I expect people to talk about it, and write about me, and keep talking about me. And sometimes I wonder why collectors don't do something provocative, instead of always playing the part of the usual artists' henchmen."

Francesco Bonomi

And finally, Jonathan Jones, renown critic of the Guard, says that you should not make fun of the banana. The banana, Jones writes, "mocks the market since it is clearly not worth the price at which it is sold."

"As Damien Hirst said, merchants are unpleasant people who sell shit to idiots. Cattelan has been beating on the same spot for years, but in a more spiritual way."

Jonathan Jones

While the world is unleashing on social networks and making all kinds of criticisms, the artist doesn't seem to be influenced by all this. Cattelan doesn't care about all that, no matter if the banana has been eaten or mocked because all that the public has created and creates around his works is precisely what feeds their narrative and the story they tell, he said.

Conclusion? Who cares, in the end, Art is and will remain a place where the freedom to express yourself reigns and the ways in which it will be done will also be free. As the Artist says:

"I don't care if it was eaten. My art? They are ideas."

Maurizio Cattelan

art Cattelan critica Datuna performance
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