The museum that acquires an edition of Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian will have to carefully consider its security after an artist ate the $120,000 banana duct taped to the wall of an art fair booth. The edible piece of conceptual art on sale at Galerie Perrotin in Art Basel in Miami Beach tasted good, declared New York-based David Datuna on Saturday, although he grumbled there was too much tape.
Cattelan’s Paris-based dealer Emmanuel Perrotin raced back to the fair from Miami airport on Saturday afternoon when he heard of the act of vandalism. With the help of assistant the gallerist soon restored the Italian artist’s work to the wall of his booth. The gallerist always had a spare in reserve in a back room. Four Miami Beach police officers stood guard after the incident, the Miami Herald reports. And a rope barrier was added to control the crowds of curious fair goers as the sculpture’s fame soared.
Datuna, who claimed to be a “hungry artist,” was led away by security but not arrested, the Herald reports. He staged his self-described “performance” at 1.45 p.m. on Saturday during the fair’s popular public day, so many A-list collectors will have missed the commotion. Video of the Georgia-born artist’s nonchalant act of appropriation quickly circulated on social media, however.
After swift sales to private collectors, Cattelan and Perrotin agreed that they would sell the third edition of Comedian to a museum. Perrotin told Artnet News that two had already expressed an interest. The French gallerist was relaxed about the work’s security ahead of Saturday’s incident, explaining that without the artist’s certificate of authenticity, the banana is no longer a sculpture, and so reverts to being a piece of fruit.
Comedian was the instant talking point of Art Basel Miami Beach 2019, and a social media sensation. It even made the front page of the New York Post. Galerie Perrotin posted an image on Instagram of the tabloid taped to a wall in the style of the work of art. The disappearance of a banana Cattelan had picked for his conceptual work of art into another artist’s stomach looks set to guarantee Comedian even more column inches.
The banana’s notoriety mirrors Cattelan’s solid-gold toilet, America, which also satirizes conspicuous consumption. That work of conceptual art remains missing after it was stolen from Blenheim Palace in England in an audacious heist in October.
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