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Art Anecdotes : Maurizio Cattelan – A Comedian Indeed

Through ART ANECDOTES, Art From Us brings you funny, heart-warming and sometimes heartbreaking stories that shape Artists and their work. Today we look at the story of “Maurizio Cattelan – A Comedian Indeed”.

Art From Us and Divvya Nirula bring to you a curated collection of Art related events, from suspected murder, to love affairs, to grand theft and curious cases of creation through ART ANECDOTES. Join us on this fun-filled ride of exploring and reliving these art-tales.

Art Basel Miami

Since its inception in 2002, Basel Miami has gained a reputation as a kind of eccentric love child of high art and entertainment. Right from the Milan-fashion-week type crowd the fair attracts to the sort of outrageous works it brings into the market year after year, this is an art exposition unlike any other in the world. Always studded with celebrities, marked with controversy and yet frequented by the best galleries from across the globe– Basel Miami’s 2019 edition maintained its long-standing reputation.

Maurizio Catellan, Comedian (2019)
Image Courtesy : Vogue

Maurizio Cattelan Strikes Again!

The kind of art presented at Basel Miami is ‘art fair art’ in its truest sense, in that it is eye catching, jaw dropping and sometimes extremely questionable. From the fair’s recent edition, the most controversial and scandalous piece that everyone loves to hate is one by artist Maurizio Cattelan. We are of course referring to the banana that the Italian artist taped to the wall at the booth of Perrotin gallery. Yes, Comedian (2019) is a ripe banana with some grey duct tape across it.

Of course, this is not the first time an artwork by Cattelan has caused so much awe and outrage simultaneously. This is the same artist that had installed a fully functional toilet made of solid gold at the Guggenheim Museum in New York a few years ago, humorously calling it America.

Really, a banana?

In an interview, Cattelan had once mentioned that had been toying with the idea of creating a sculptural work based on the fruit. However, he rejected many concepts and always came back to the real thing itself – the banana, as designed by mother nature. This is why, instead of presenting a manmade likeness of a banana, the artist chose to exhibit the fruit itself.

Whatever his artistic process and reasoning maybe, much of the artworld and most of the sane world find this piece offensive and ridiculous. That being said however, even the banana has found a buyer – nay, three.

For the handsome sum of between $120,000 – $150,000, editions of Comedian have sold to Miami-based collectors Billy and Beatrice Cox, and to Paris-based Sarah Andelman. So how does this purchase work, you might ask? The banana itself will obviously run its natural life cycle and deteriorate. However, the buyers of the piece have invested in the concept of the work, the physical manifestation of which is its certificate of authenticity. If they wish to put the piece on display, they simply buy a new banana and tape it to a wall, based on specific instructions delineated by Cattelan.

Public Reactions

You don’t just tape a piece of fruit to the wall at one of the world’s premier art fairs without warranting some absurd reactions. At some point during the fair, performance artist David Datuna casually walked up to the Perrotin booth and ate up Cattelan’s work. Calling the piece ‘delicious’, Datuna claimed to have worked on his performative instincts rather than any pre-planning between him and Cattelan. Replaced by the next day, such a massive crowd has gathered around the booth that the gallerist decided to take the work off display entirely, on account of the ‘health and safety’ risk it posed to fair-goers.

So is it art or not?

If Arte Povera, Conceptualism, Dada and Warhol have taught us anything, it is this – art is what the artist says it is. If you think ‘I could have done this’ – well, you should have! Besides, Comedian now has its own Instagram account – with a blue tick and more followers than you could ever hope for.

To read more stories visit Art Anecdotes.

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