The appeal of art lies in the creator’s ability to sharply divide their audience. The more outrageous an expression, the louder are the praise and rancour for it.
A banana duct-taped to a wall was sold earlier this week for – that’s right, you read it correct – $120,000 at Miami’s Art Basel. CBS News reported that two of the three editions have been sold, according to Perrotin, the contemporary art gallery behind the work. The last one is expected to go for $150,000.
It’s creator? Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. If he sounds familiar, that’s because he entertained art lovers and perplexed the rest from around the world in 2017 with his “America” 18-carat-gold toilet. Oh and, the banana piece is amusingly called “The Comedian” and it surely gave plenty of people a good laugh.
But does this really constitute art? As the wealth inequality in the art world grows, only the contemporary and household artists, galleries and auction houses can capitalise on such forms of expression. This leaves emerging and struggling talent stranded further.
Emmanuel Perrotin, the gallery founder, told CBS News that Maurizio’s work is not just about objects, but about how objects move through the world.
“Whether affixed to the wall of an art fair booth or displayed on the cover of the New York Post, his work forces us to question how value is placed on material goods,” he said.
He added that, “the spectacle is as much a part of the work as the banana.”
As for Cattelan himself, the idea for his latest work came a year ago. He “was thinking of a sculpture that was shaped like a banana,” according to Perrotin.
Every time he traveled, 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 (before) finally coming back to the initial idea of a real banana, the gallery’s statement read.
While the artist reported no clear instructions for buyers on whether the bananas start to decompose, it has been reported that owners can replace the banana, as needed.
At least the buyer will never run out of bananas to eat when they crave it.