An artist has caused a ruckus in the art world after he grabbed a prized banana that had been taped to a wall and sold for $US120,000 and ate it, in what he declared as his own performance art.
The artwork of a real banana, by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, was on show at the prestigious Art Basel exhibition in Miami when fellow artist David Datuna walked up to it, pulled it from the wall and casually ate it in front of a crowd of onlookers.
Security escorted Mr Datuna from the gallery soon afterwards. However, Artnet reported that no charges would be brought against him.
In a video of what Mr Datuna has called his performance art, he commented that the banana tasted good but said there was “too much tape” for his liking.
The artwork, titled Comedian – of which there were three versions – had earlier sold for $US120,000 ($175,534).
The artwork has not been permanently damaged, however, with another banana taking its place.
On Instagram, Mr Datuna declared his work The Hungry Artist, saying: “I love Maurizio Cattelan artwork and I really love this installation. It’s very delicious”.
The stunt has been praised on social media as a hilarious prank.
One user said: “Not all heroes wear capes”, while another wrote on Mr Datuna’s Instagram post that: “You eating that banana might be the best thing I’ve seen all year.”
If David Datuna can eat artwork, so can I. I will start by eating Object. No further questions. pic.twitter.com/gRdOiDxe12
— Maggie Wynn (@maggiemwynn) December 8, 2019
Came downstairs this morning to find this priceless installation.
I thought about pulling a David Datuna but it's a bit past its best at this point… pic.twitter.com/X1GeMIuxVs
— Dr Liz Tunbridge (@LizTunbridge) December 8, 2019
Earlier during the exhibition, the artwork was so popular with crowds wanting to take selfies with the now-infamous banana that staff were forced to remove it from view, Artnet reported.
Emmanuel Perrotin, whose gallery represented Mr Cattelan at the Art Basel, posted on Instagram that “the installation caused several uncontrollable crowd movements and the placement of the work on our booth compromised the safety of the artwork around us, including that of our neighbours”.
View this post on Instagram
With a heavy heart, I regret to inform you that ‘Comedian’ will be removed from our Art Basel Miami Beach booth for the last day of the fair, Sunday, December 8th. This morning at 9am, following recommendations, we removed the installation. We want to thank the organizers of the fair for their help and continued support. Art Basel collaboratively worked with us to station guards and create uniform lines. However, the installation caused several uncontrollable crowd movements and the placement of the work on our booth compromised the safety of the artwork around us, including that of our neighbors. In the end, I would like to warmly thank all those who participated in this memorable adventure. As well as our colleagues and neighbors, who helped support our endeavors, often graciously indicating the location of Comedian. When Maurizio first told me about his idea, I never once anticipated that it could become what it is today. ‘Comedian,’ with its simple composition, ultimately offered a complex reflection of ourselves. I am eternally grateful to Maurizio for entrusting me with the display of this watershed conceptual work. We sincerely apologize to all the visitors of the fair who today will not be able to participate in Comedian. _ @mauriziocattelan @artbasel @cattelanbanana @galerieperrotin #cattelanbanana @whitecube #artbaselmiamibeach #artbasel #mauriziocattelan #cattelan #perrotin
A post shared by Emmanuel Perrotin (@emmanuelperrotin) on
“When Maurizio first told me about his idea, I never once anticipated that it could become what it is today. Comedian, with its simple composition, ultimately offered a complex reflection of ourselves,” he wrote.
Perrotin Gallery described New York-based Mr Cattelan as “one of the most popular and controversial artists on the contemporary art scene”.
His playful and provocative use of materials, objects, and gestures set in challenging contexts forces commentary and engagement.”
In a statement to The Art Newspaper, the gallery said the now-consumed artwork “offers insight [into] how we assign worth and what kind of objects we value”.
One of his previous works involved replacing a toilet at the Guggenheim Museum with a version cast in 18-karat gold, which was fully functional and available for use by the public.