Art a peel


Catellan’s “Comedian” was displayed in Art Basel in Miami. (Helen Orozco/Flickr)

Sammy Rubin, Arts and Culture Editor

What is the most expensive banana that you have ever eaten before? Probably not that expensive and it definitely does not compare to the banana eaten by Italian artist David Datuna (valued at approximately $120,000). What makes this even more interesting is that the Banana did not belong to Datuna. It was an actual work of art exhibited in Miami at Art Basel and purchased by someone else. 

This banana was duct taped to a wall by an artist named Maurizio Cattelan, who is best known for his sculptures and installations. It is not unusual for this type of art to make it into the spotlight, especially since it stands out. Before the banana, Cattelan created America, a gold covered toilet to show how the product is worth more for its raw material rather than for its concept. He flips this idea with the banana because he is well aware that it is not worth the asking price of $120,000. It seems fitting that the name for this artwork is Comedian, possibly poking fun at the art community.  Resident artist at the Weber School, Mrs. Myrbo, expressed that “Comedian can refer to both the peel itself (slip, fall, haha) or an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ message of ‘putting one over on,’ in this case especially, rich people.”

Of course this was more of a conceptual piece rather than an aesthetic one. Conceptual art refers to an overlaying message that the art is portraying. To the contrary, aesthetic art only focuses on the visuals. Conceptual art started around the same time as the industrial revolution and this is not a coincidence. As products were becoming mass produced, they were losing their originality and artistic touch. Artist Marcel Duchamp challenged this change in his 1917 piece titled Fountain. This was not a fountain but in fact was a men’s urinal which historically has had a standard shape that has been repeated over and over again. Commodities becoming homogenous so Duchamp had no problem choosing something unflattering to make a statement. 

Although destroying someone else’s art can be seen as a crime, in this case it benefitted the creator. Myrbo goes on to say that “Datuna made Cattelan more famous; is this a crime? Is art about fame or is it about the act and realization of creating ‘beauty?’ That’s the bigger question.” Some are speculating that Cattelan payed Datuna to eat his artwork but this is still not verified. Whatever the case, Cattelan still achieved his goals by raising questions in the art world.

He wanted to shake up the community and did just that.  This banana will live in infamy for decades to come.