This infamous banana wall art piece, known as Comedian, was seen on every social media platform upon its release. With Banana Taped to Wall selling for $120 000, it caused an outrage in the art world when it was initially exhibited at the Art Basel fair of 2019. In this article, we will be explaining the weird and wonderful Banana Taped to Wall by Maurizio Cattelan.
Table of Contents
- 1 Behind the Banana Wall Artwork
- 2 Banana Taped to Wall by Maurizio Cattelan
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
Behind the Banana Wall Artwork
By way of an unidentified donation, the Guggenheim Museum in New York received Comedian by Maurizio Cattelan in September of 2019. The artwork—a banana taped to a wall—was initially displayed and offered for sale at the Miami Beach Art Basel festival in the fall of 2019 where it attracted notice, jeers, and many memes.
For a brief while, social media was flooded with pictures of pretty much everything taped to walls, including tamales, soda cans, vegetables, shoes, and someone’s cat.
Companies swiftly responded with internet advertisements showing their goods, such as deodorants and French fries, duct-taped to walls with a low price tag. But who is the man behind the infamous banana wall artwork?
Introduction to the Artist: Maurizio Cattelan
|Date of Birth||21 September 1960|
|Date of Death||N/A|
|Place of Birth||Padua, Italy|
Maurizio Cattelan pokes fun at institutions, institutions in general, and current value systems specifically in his whimsical, provocative conceptual activity. His creations include the iconic Comedian (2019), which is just a banana tacked to a wall, and a wax monument of Pope John Paul II being struck by a meteor.
All of Cattelan’s sculptures and installations are satirical, and they frequently evoke Marcel Duchamp’s humorous conceptualism. They involve the audience, the artist, the collectors, and social standards of taste.
The self-taught Cattelan held a position in design before beginning his career as an artist. He has held exhibitions in Paris, New York, London, Berlin, Milan, and Zürich, as well as often taking part in the Venice Biennale. Millions have been paid for his works on the secondary market. The fundamental themes of Cattelan’s work are humor and sarcasm; as a result, he is sometimes referred to as an art scene clown, jester, or prankster.
He has been referred to as “one of the great post-Duchampian painters and a smartass, too” by Jonathan P. Binstock.
Speaking with Sarah Thornton on the subject of originality, Cattelan said, “Originality is not an independent entity. It is a progression of the things that are made. Your ability to add is what makes you original.” His art frequently employed straightforward puns or subverted overused scenarios, such as by swapping out people for animals in sculptural tableaux. Carol Vogel commented, “Cattelan’s humor elevates his art above the aesthetic pleasure one-liners, being frequently morbidly interesting.”
Banana Taped to Wall by Maurizio Cattelan
|Dimensions (cm)||72 x 36 x 68|
|Current Location||Has since been eaten|
A comedian resurrected a series of queries that appear to come up periodically: what distinguishes one object as a costly piece of art from another that is seemingly identical? Since the piece was displayed at an art market, it is important to think carefully before purchasing anything like Comedian.
Throughout the fair, the original banana had to be replaced many times, once after being consumed by another artist as a stunt.
A homage to Comedian (Banana Taped to Wall) (2019) by Maurizio Cattelan. This is a performance piece created by David Datuna after he was inspired by Maurizio Cattelan’s artwork; David Datuna, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
There was no genuine banana or duct tape sent to the collectors who purchased the sculpture and later gave it to the Guggenheim. Instead, they received a document—a certification of authenticity—that gave them permission to duplicate the job and detailed instructions on how to accomplish it.
Among other requirements, it said that the banana needed to be suspended 175 cm above the floor and changed every seven to ten days.
Is a Banana an Artwork?
At least since the middle of the 20th century, the art world has accepted the notion that ready-made commonplace things may be considered works of art, but Cattelan’s work stimulated a discussion about the methodology used to evaluate artworks. What use does a paper providing the legal right to do the same if anybody may tape anything on the wall, as many people did? Let’s contrast Comedian with Zoe Leonard’s Strange Fruit (1992 – 1997), a huge installation of fruit peels that the artist painstakingly pieced together.
It served as a ritualized gesture of grief and memorialization and was created during the Aids crisis. Leonard determined that it was better in keeping with the intention of the piece to let the material slowly deteriorate into dust after carefully collaborating with a conservator who established a way of stopping material decline at a certain moment.
In contrast to Comedian, it was not possible to substitute the fruit waste since the significance of the piece depended heavily on the individual acts of grieving that were stitched.
Although time and change affect Leonard’s organic objects’ tangible manifestation, it must be these specific fruit pieces that go through the transition. The identity of artwork, according to conceptual artists of the 1960s, lies not in its physical expression but rather in the idea that inspired it. Although it’s not required, that notion might materialize.
According to such reasoning, the concept is what is purchased and sold on the art market, not the physical thing, which is only an expression of the idea. The certificate of authenticity preserves the artwork’s status as artwork even when it is replicable or immaterial.
No particular banana is required for “Comedian”; any banana might be used without changing the message of the piece. To suggest that any banana and strip of duct tape are works of art by Maurizio Cattelan, on the other hand, is very different.
Taking Shots at the Art Market
Even if the Banana Taped to Wall price of US$120,000 was reasonable by modern art standards, it is undoubtedly a significant markup for the process of fusing two really affordable and easily accessible materials. The title of the piece suggests that it is conscious of the comic absurdity of its own assessment of the art market.
The upward slope of the banana on the wall also resembles a stylized smile, and as we all know, banana peels are used in even the most rudimentary slapstick sketches.
Cattelan was really not the first comedian to make fun of the market, art dealers, and how they fit into the whole system. He ordered his dealer Emmanuel Perrotin to dress as a giant, pink, penis-shaped rabbit for the length of his 1995 exhibition at Perrotin’s Paris gallery. Errotin the True Rabbit was the title of the work. The farce of the art market was brought into sharp relief by forcing Perrotin to labor as a commercial gallery owner while donning a silly and embarrassing phallic costume.
The Guggenheim has received media attention recently, but Cattelan’s sculptures have received notice in other ways as well.
In one of the museum’s restrooms, the artist erected the piece America in 2016. The 18-karat gold toilet is a satirical work of interactive art that invites people to actually use it. It is a tongue-in-cheek remark on the excesses of America’s wealthy. It echoes the lavatorial works of Marcel Duchamp and Sherrie Levine.
Like other pieces, Cattelan’s must be viewed in the context of other pieces as well as the systems in which it functions. Are we to take “Comedian” seriously or is it a sophisticated joke? If the joke in “Banana Taped to Wall” by Maurizio Cattelan is on someone or something, who or what is being made fun of? Maybe it was a good dig at the status of both artists and the art industry. In any case, it sparked controversy in the art community and raised the question of what art actually is as an idea and a message.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Name of the Banana Wall Art?
The banana taped to the wall by Maurizio Cattelan is actually called Comedian. Perhaps the name can give us some insight into how seriously he took the artwork. Or, perhaps it was an adequate quip at the state of artists and the art market alike. Either way, it caused an outrage in the art world and once brought into question what art is as a concept and statement. Even though the banana itself was changed every few days, the concept of the artwork remained unchanged and therefore, even the replacement bananas are seen as part of the original artwork.
What Is the Banana Taped to Wall Priced At?
The infamous artwork was priced at $120, 000. Cattelan had sold two editions of the artwork already. One version on display was eaten by a guest – another artist – as a statement, saying that the banana was delicious. The action of eating the banana was seen as a performance piece itself – perhaps a statement about how certain pieces of art were considered more valuable than others. Perhaps it was a statement on how some artists are able to demand ridiculous amounts of money for their artworks, while others starve trying to sell pieces just to make ends meet. Therefore, it is without irony that the artist titled his performance piece The Hungry Artist!
Isabella studied at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English Literature & Language and Psychology. Throughout her undergraduate years, she took Art History as an additional subject and absolutely loved it. Building on from her art history knowledge that began in high school, art has always been a particular area of fascination for her. From learning about artworks previously unknown to her, or sharpening her existing understanding of specific works, the ability to continue learning within this interesting sphere excites her greatly.
Her focal points of interest in art history encompass profiling specific artists and art movements, as it is these areas where she is able to really dig deep into the rich narrative of the art world. Additionally, she particularly enjoys exploring the different artistic styles of the 20th century, as well as the important impact that female artists have had on the development of art history.
Cite this Article
Isabella, Meyer, ““Banana Taped to Wall” by Maurizio Cattelan – Explore This Artwork.” Art in Context. July 21, 2022. URL: https://artincontext.org/banana-taped-to-wall-by-maurizio-cattelan/
Meyer, I. (2022, 21 July). “Banana Taped to Wall” by Maurizio Cattelan – Explore This Artwork. Art in Context. https://artincontext.org/banana-taped-to-wall-by-maurizio-cattelan/