Prankster eats banana from $120,000 work of “art”

Note: I just saw that this is the post #21,000 on this site. I like round numbers.

As I reported splenetically the other day, an “artwork” consisting of a banana duct-taped to a wall, “created” by “artist” Maurizio Cattelan, sold for $120,000. What a scam, if for no other reason than the banana was going to rot. In fact, Cattelan created two of these “installations”, and the second sold for $150,000, making a cool $270,000 going into the pocket of this charlatan. It also proves that there are “art” lovers with far more money than sense.

I was thus pleased to hear that, according to several sources, a prankster yanked the banana from the wall and ate it. Here’s the New York Times report:

 

From the article:

Shortly before 2 p.m. on Saturday, a New York City-based performance artist, David Datuna, peeled the taped banana from the wall and devoured it, an Instagram video posted by Mr. Datuna showed.

He grinned and raised the half-eaten banana as if making a toast.

Click on this Instagram post by Datuna to see the “toast”:

More:

Another video posted on Twitter showed Mr. Datuna appearing to be escorted out of the Galerie Perrotin space as bemused and stupefied art patrons watched.

And here’s that video:

Finally, it looks as if Datuna, despite destroying a $120,000 artwork, will face no charges:

But a spokeswoman for Galerie Perrotin, which represents Mr. Cattelan, said in an interview on Saturday that the gallery was not taking any action against Mr. Datuna.

“It’s all in good spirits,” the spokeswoman said. “Perrotin is not pressing any legal charges.”

Gallery officials replaced the banana with another one, saying that the artwork was not destroyed and that the banana was simply an “idea.”

The banana was replaced (and, I suppose, the tape as well, which means that nothing about the new installation is original), and is now being guarded:

And now the installation has been removed (click on Instagram post to see the whole thing):

The bananacide and the replacement of the fruit raises many philosophical questions about what art really is (this ain’t it!!), and whether and how the bananaphage should be punished. And what about the two buyers? Do they get their money back?

But since the artist’s reputation was in eclipse, and this installation was supposed to be a bit of a comeback, I’m wondering whether the whole comedy wasn’t contrived by the artist and the prankster to get Cattlan some attention. But if two people really paid over $100,000 for a banana duct-taped to a wall, then we have to ask ourselves what has happened to the status of modern art in our era.

58 Comments

  1. Posted December 8, 2019 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Everyone’s a critic… 😂

  2. yazikus
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Was it a cautionary tale about the prevalence of monoculture crops and the failure of the fruit industry to grapple with the coming demise of our current global banana crop?

  3. Charles Sawicki
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Like the performance art involving the banana!

    • Doug
      Posted December 8, 2019 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      It’s been done.

      John Lennon first met Yoko Ono at an exhibit of her artwork in 1966. One of her masterpieces was “Apple,” an apple sitting on a plexiglass stand, on sale for 200 pounds. John later said “I thought it was fantastic . . .200 quid to watch the apple decompose.” Yoko said that her piece was about the “excitement” of watching the apple decay, and the decision of whether or not to replace it. John actually took a bite out of the apple, which Yoko said made her “furious” that someone would “mess with [her] work.” John was so impressed that he left his wife AND the Beatles for this genius.

      None of the articles I’ve seen on this story mention Yoko’s precedent. Another innovator ignored.

      • Posted December 9, 2019 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        I have seen the Lennon-apple incident referenced by media discussions of the banana, but don’t recall the source.

  4. neilmdunn
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Wonder how high restaurant prices will go when they declare the menu items = “edible art”?

  5. Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I think we need the opinion of an expert. Bring in a chimp.

  6. DFMGV
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    This does appear to be a case for the infamous inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame, who would have looked at the current state of the art world with bananas/duct tape and concluded that the current value of the arts has “slipped”.
    But if Cattlan and the prankster were to be found out to be in collusion and the crime was a staged hoax, the judge would have to sentence each of them to the only punishment that would fit this crime————-carefully tape them to their prison cell wall.

    • sted24
      Posted December 8, 2019 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      According to the Guardian, Cattelan duct-taped gallerist Massimo De Carlo to the walls of his own gallery in 1999. Pic here:

      http://www.perrotin.com/artists/Maurizio_Cattelan/2/a-perfect-day/5394

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 8, 2019 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        … and then there was the roadie who duct-taped Professor Brian Cox to a lighting rig for being annoying

        cr

        • rickflick
          Posted December 8, 2019 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          I can see that happening. 😎

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted December 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          I deduce that some other company retains the design rights for the “true” and “bluff” envelopes from “Call my Bluff”. Shame, because this sort of programme really needs them.
          I’m sure I’ve heard the radio version of that programme.

  7. JezGrove
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it seems that the banana is entirely conceptual – and presumably the duct tape too. I’m genuinely not sure what the art-loving idiots have actually bought, but am half expecting them to catch their own stools and then sell them for twice the price they paid. Art will eat itself, as it were…!

    • David Harper
      Posted December 9, 2019 at 12:32 am | Permalink

      I hate to break it to you, but that line was crossed almost sixty years ago, when an Italian artist named Piero Manzoni canned his own poop and sold it as art. He produced 90 cans, and the Tate Gallery in London is the ground owner of one of them:

      https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/manzoni-artists-shit-t07667

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 10, 2019 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Ceci n’est pas une banane!

  8. Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know why you consider Maurizio Cattelan a “charlatan”. He produced something without trickery or deception. Somebody deemed it suitable for the exhibition. And someone else paid that price for it.

    It’s silly, yes. I don’t know what it adds to the discussion about “what is art?” that wasn’t asked a hundred years ago by Michel Duchamp’s “fountain” (1917). Also, the banana was made iconic already with Warhol’s cover art for Velvet Underground & Nico (1967).

    Money is blown away for all sorts of reasons. Rich people probably flush it down the toilet on a slow Tuesday. In a way, this situation is quite representative for urban life, where access and connections are far more valuable than skill (Maurizio Cattelan may or may not possess artistic skills, they’re just irrelevant).

    • Posted December 8, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      But come on, when Duchamp made his “Fountain” it certainly didn’t sell for thousands of dollars within a few days. Duchamp and the Surrealist struggled against the tide for decades because they were deliberately poking people in the eye. They lived in poverty – Breton did even after WWII. In this case, it is the banana eater who is akin to Duchamp (who also drew a moustache on a replica of the Mona Lisa), not Cattelan.

      And to see the stick-up-ass staff member come storming up to Datuna in all self-righteousness, pushing past the throngs of smiling art-lovers who are laughing and seem to get it, says it all. One hundred years after the Surrealists tried to introduce humor into art by calling the powerful on their puffed up BS, it’s still controversial.

      • Posted December 8, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        My point, exactly, putting up something silly or “non-art” was done before, by Duchamp for instance, and as you say, it’s indeed not innovative anymore. The fact that it sells so well shows that this question “is this art?” (for instance) was answered with a resounding “yes!” as people fork over 150,000 and 120,000$. The destruction of the art by the performance artist is likewise not that novel, either.

        But people have the money, and they like to show off how much by buying this.

        • Filippo
          Posted December 8, 2019 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

          Have the buyers been identified? They can’t all that much regale in showing off if they remain anonymous.

  9. David Coxill
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Replaced the banana,reminds me of Trigger and his broom .

  10. Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I am disappointed that they replaced the banana, since had they not done so the surviving one would have been worth more.

  11. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Each art object has an associated certificate & it is that which holds value – the banana & tape can be replaced at any time & this is understood by the artist, dealers & end-buyers [consumers LOL].

    It is a modern scam: the certificate is all that matters & is an instrument used to tax dodge, money launder or swap for goods and/or services in the dark world of drugs, arms, raising armies & so on. The certificates are easily negotiable & portable currency as ownership of the certificate & art is transferred electronically or via lawyers. The art &/or certificate remains in one spot – usually a freeport vault or in bullion stores such as those discrete ones under the City of London – e.g. there’s one below JP Morgan on Victoria Embankment & it [it is rumoured] connects & peculiar hours, via the underground to Old Lady of Threadneedle Street].

    This Wiki about Freeport Geneva is worth a read as it describes some of the shenanigans at just this one location – there’s enough art stuffed away to make the finest collection in the world. Supposedly worth $100 billion, but that’s figures out of thin air.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Another common theme is to make a perfect copy for display while keeping the original vaulted – that’s for fine art only & not bananas.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 8, 2019 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      I recall reading that there are about a dozen or so billionaires who buy and sell art with each other at the very highest price range. Paintings go for tens or hundreds of millions. They all know each other and dicker with each other as a kind of game. Works circulate among them until they get donated to a museum.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 8, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      The highest price for a painting was $450 million paid for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_paintings

      Although Leonardo’s work is inherently much more valuable than the banana, is it really worth that price? It too can be considered a scam perpetrated by the art community.

      • JezGrove
        Posted December 8, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        And I seem to recall that there was some doubt about its attribution to Leonardo, and also about where it actually is. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/oct/13/leonardo-da-vinci-salvator-mundi-jesus-louvre-exhibition

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted December 8, 2019 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        Look closely at that picture. The subject’s eyes are unfocused, and the tell-tale joint has clearly just slipped from his half-crossed fingers. He’s zonked. And so are most of the charlatans who engage in this Game of Pseuds.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 9, 2019 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        The market is fixed – the academic authenticators included. There is so much money involved now that it’s a very nice payday for everyone if a painting ‘in the style of’ [by a pupil of the great artist in his workshop] can get upgraded to the status of “look, that face over on the left & those cloak folds are obviously by The Master himself!” – it’s likely to be bollocks isn’t it. We need to get together & write some scraps of original Lennon lyrics & get them discovered stuffed in the pages of an old 1964 Liverpool phone directory…

        • rickflick
          Posted December 9, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

          Lennon Lyrics! I’m way ahead of you…just completed the first movement of a lost Beethoven symphony. 😎

  12. Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    NOW THAT IS ART, performance art, sticking it to the bourgeois elites. It would have been better if it was a homeless guy, but still.
    That’s BEAUTIFUL! Hahahahaha!

  13. Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if the two people who each paid over 100k for bananas believe in miracles. Either way, it would say something amusing.

    • Posted December 9, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Paraphrasing Billy Joel, “If you wanta be an art collector honey, all you need is looks and a whole lotta money”

  14. Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    This banana duct tape stuff ain’t art. Hell, no!

  15. Roger
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Next thing you know they will be selling paint splatters as art.

  16. yazikus
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    One might say this whole thing is, wait for it, bananas.

  17. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    The banana story makes me think of a story I saw on Sunday Morning about food deserts in many cities and towns in America. Entire neighborhoods with no grocery with real food. Instead these neighborhoods and small towns are full of something called Dollar General Stores. These stores are full of food that is bad for you, full of sugar and mostly processed junk. These stores are very popular and growing like weeds, putting good grocery stores with real food out of business. So while small real grocery stores go away and out of business, they are replace by Dollar stores with crap for food. There are currently 30,000 of these stores in America and growing.

  18. GBJames
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t call that fellow a prankster. I think he’s a hungry art critic.

  19. EdwardM
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    This stunt just demonstrates how unapeeling modern art is.

  20. freiner
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Shows once again that art is a matter of taste.

  21. grasshopper
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    The perfect musical accompaniment for this story “Yes, we have no bananas.”

    The incongruity of the phrase “Yes, we have no bananas” leads me to mention another lyrical discordancy – “If you leave me, can I come too?” from a song of that title by the Australia band “Mental As Anything”. That lyric is the epitome of optimism. The keyboard player from that band died last week. “Greedy” Smith was only sixty-three.

  22. g.
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m disappointed in the comments here. This story is as troubling as the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban in 2001. Only the original banana is the right one. Any other banana would make this simply “a banana taped on a backing” and not the artists work. Cretins.

  23. dd
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I bet that each edition carried a statement of authenticity, signed by the artist, and instructions on how to install it. Knowing a bit about his work, he was also poking fun at the conceptual artists who give extraordinarily detailed instructions on who is allowed to recreate the work and how.

    I believe that there was the case, many years ago, where a museum, or gallery, had bought a Carl Andre piece of wood blocks. The museum looked at a photograph and set it up itself. Andre, I’ve read, had a fit saying that only people from his studio could do that or else it really wasn’t his work.

    BTW, a quick way to understand what Maurizio Cattelan, the banana artist, is about, take a look at how he had his Guggenheim retrospective from a few years ago, featuring his most famous works, installed:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=cattelan+guggenheim&sxsrf=ACYBGNRGCR_9zXRpuGVeR3RO_ByQqBKX8g:1575848087760&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=lj0L7S9MiUM63M%253A%252C6S0LdnK8QFvRvM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kTHffg2MijwzoClJOj2pumerIoRdg&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi5n_bLm6fmAhVFLKwKHV0LBHYQ_h0wD3oECA0QBA&biw=1366&bih=664

  24. dd
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    And now this:

    “Students Convinced Cambridge University to Remove a ‘Slightly Repulsive’ 17th-Century Painting From Their Dining Hall”

    https://news.artnet.com/art-world/cambridge-university-vegetarians-remove-frans-snyders-1725330?utm_content=buffer832e0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=news&fbclid=IwAR1zt3W9c0S39iUrihZr85TR4C3QjC_YWh2DuNjpibRWJ3NS2MYUMQ9Vz20

  25. Jon Gallant
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Another noted pinnacle of art was displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Wiki describes the masterpiece as follows:

    “Levitated Mass is a 2012 large-scale public art sculpture by Michael Heizer at Resnick North Lawn at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The installation consists of a 340-ton boulder sculpture placed above a 456-foot viewing pathway to accommodate 360-degree viewing.[1]
    …Heizer first conceived of the work in 1968, and attempted its construction using a 120-ton boulder in 1969. This attempt was abandoned, however, when the boom of the crane being used to lift the boulder broke. In December 2006, Heizer discovered a new 340-ton[8] rock at Stone Valley Quarry in Jurupa Valley, California in Riverside County while preparing a different project. With the help of LACMA director Michael Govan, funding was secured for the boulder’s removal and transportation and for the construction of the finished work at the museum. The cost of the project has been estimated at $10 million, and was funded entirely via private donations.”

  26. Posted December 8, 2019 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Obviously the prankster should be forced to deliver his next bowel movement to the artist.

  27. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 8, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    I say this whole thing is an Andy Kaufman type of performance art – I don’t know if there’s a French term for it but there should be.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 8, 2019 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Salvador Dali was great at hyping his career with stunts of one sort or another. He should be given some credit with the development of the trend.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted December 8, 2019 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Yes, that’s the artist – Dali

  28. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted December 9, 2019 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    This is not the first time one of Cattelan’s works has been stolen from a gallery. Another of his works was a solid gold toilet and earlier this year it was stolen from Blenheim Palace in England where it was temporarily installed. In that instance there was no simple remedy of popping down to the grocery store to buy a cheap replacement.

  29. Dave
    Posted December 9, 2019 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I think the prankster missed an opportunity by eating the banana. He should have shoved it up his fundament, in which case the exhibitors would have faced a dilemma about whether to put it back on display.

    Who knows, the artwork might even have increased in value!

  30. Posted December 9, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Apparently, the work consists only of the certificate of authenticity: “It is up to the owners to secure their own materials from hardware and grocery stores“.

  31. RPGNo1
    Posted December 9, 2019 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    The prank reminds me of Joseph Beuys’ “Fettecke”, which was removed by a caretaker of the Art Academy of Düsseldorf.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fettecke

  32. Posted December 9, 2019 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Well, at least it didn’t go to waste then!

  33. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted December 10, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    For his next trick, “David Datuna” is heading to Equivalent VIII (first story on link).
    I am studiously avoiding a ceramic-related word here, just in case someone else is indulging in negative artwork by leaving an absence of that word, for people to notice it’s inverse presence.

  34. Posted December 11, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Jerry, as you like round numbers, keep a lookout for 70,000 followers, due to come up soon 🙂

  35. Posted December 12, 2019 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Yes, that’s the artist 💯


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