January 18th, 2020| Topic: RaMbLeS | 4


The other day, one of the most talked-about works of art at the 2019 Art Basel was—get this!—a banana duct-taped to the wall!

The fruit and tape in question were created by Maurizio Cattelan (of the $6-million-2017-golden-toilet fame). Called “The Comedian.” It sold for $120,000. Cattelan made another copy. That sold for $120,000, too. A third was made, and was expected to go for $150,000. More about that in a minute.

Emmanuel Perrotin—the founder of Perrotin, the gallery where the work was displayed—told CBS News that the piece was about how the meaning and importance of objects changes depending on the context.

Whether affixed to the wall of an art fair booth or displayed on the cover of the New York Post, his work forces us to question how value is placed on material goods. The spectacle is as much a part of the work as the banana.”

Others weren’t so sure. Art lover Weezie Chandler declared:

You can do anything and once you’re established you can get away with it.”


It’s mocking the art world. That’s what Maurizio Cattelan does.”

Reported one journalist:

Art is valuable and artists certainly deserve to be paid for their work. Nobody gets to define what isn’t art, and ‘The Comedian’ is absolutely art. Heck, it might even be powerful art, given how much chatter it has already inspired.”

So, is the duct-taped banana good or bad? I only know this: It’s higher in potassium than any of Picasso’s works.

Billy and Beatrice Cox of Miami, Florida, the buyers of one of the versions of “The Comedian,” piqued by the responses to their purchase, released a statement, calling the work “the unicorn of the art world” and comparing it to Andy Warhol’s iconic 1962 Campbell’s Soup Cans. They’re going to loan the piece to an art museum, apparently.

We bought it to ensure that it would be accessible to the public forever, to fuel debate and provoke thoughts and emotion in a public space in perpetuity.”

The third version of Cattelan’s six-figure objet d’art didn’t fare as well. A week after its installation, one enterprising person, David Datuna, an artist from New York, casually plucked it off the wall and ate it. Datuna instagrammed a video of himself consuming said work of art, calling himself the “Hungry Artist.”

He did add that it was “delicious.”

The gallery said it wasn’t going to press charges, as “it was all in good spirits.”

The power of beauty in human affairs has been expounded since the advent of writing. Plato understood that to be beautiful was one of the three wishes of every human, the other two being good health and riches.

Sappho, the ancient Greek poetess of the 6th century BC, observed that that “what is beautiful is good.” This may be philosophically debatable—not all things beautiful are necessarily good—but in practice the beautiful is routinely judged to be qualitatively superior. Why?

Declared a couple of dermatologists a few years ago:

Beauty is interpreted as implying health, and health as ensuring reproductive capacity. At a deep biological level, we prefer beautiful mates because we want viable offspring.”

It’s all about reproduction.

I disagree: I think we want beauty because we want God—the only, absolutely BEAUTIFUL being!

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.
Psalm 27:4

That’s the Beauty we must seek! Not bananas!


CBS News; Art News; GQ; PageSix


  1. Joe Pytleski January 24, 2020 at 9:37 am

    Question is: would the work have been considered “beautiful” if the story hadn’t gone viral over the internet? Seems to me to be more “click bait” than “beauty.”

    • Abe Kuruvilla January 24, 2020 at 10:09 pm

      Well it was on show …. Somebody thought it worth the while.

      My guess is it was the artist’s idea of a joke on an unsuspecting public.


  2. D Morgan January 20, 2020 at 11:04 am

    I would posit that the artist was creating money and a stir not art. The possibility that a rotting banana represents a thing of beauty for all time is a joke of the meanest kind. I believe buyer beware should be associated with Cattelan’s art work.


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