Around the Bluhmin’ Town Duct tape and banana

By Judy Bluhm

There were plenty of ground-breaking, interesting stories that graced the news in 2019. It might be difficult to find just one piece of news that stands out, when so many things of major import have occurred in the past year. Fires, floods, politics, disasters, wars, sports . . . all delivered moments of breath-taking awe and shock. Still, one story you might have missed makes me go bananas.

An avant-garde (wacky) artist named Maurizio Cattelan gave considerable thought to an art object he would be creating and displaying at Miami’s Art Basel. He wanted to do something with a banana, the glorious yellow fruit that we all love to eat. Over 100 billion bananas are eaten every year in the world. In honor of this beloved fruit, the artist wanted to “create something special.”

After months of thinking about making a bronze banana, or one out of resin, or perhaps a pure gold one (like the 8-karat gold toilet seat he made three years ago), he decided that a “banana is a banana and requires simplicity.”

So take a ripe banana, wrap some duct tape around it and stick it on the wall of the Perrotin gallery. Name it “Comedian.” Oh yea, and this is one of three editions. Price? A mere $120,000. You read that right. A 30-cent banana stuck to the wall with duct tape sells immediately for $120,000! And his second and third editions also pulled in the same sort of dough. Am I missing something here?

Of course, it gets even loopier. A performance artist named David Datuma grabbed the banana off the wall and ate it, claiming he was hungry. People gasped in horror watching him devour the “masterpiece.” The police were called, but no arrests were made. It seems everyone in Miami (or the art world) lost their collective minds.

The gallery released a statement, saying that, “Cattelan’s work is not just about objects, but how objects move through the world.” Maybe moving into one’s stomach is another way of saying this? The “art work” comes with a certificate of authenticity, and the gallery claims that when the banana was eaten, the art was not destroyed. It is the banana (stupid) that is the idea — and worth $120,000. Brilliant.

Well, for those of us who guard our precious money and are rather frugal, this “banana masterpiece” might be a road too far. Or maybe I am just not grasping the beauty of a banana being duct taped to a wall. This is called “provocation sculptural intervention,” according to the artist and his agent. They also said that the fact that it was so tempting to eat shows the true compelling nature of the “authenticity” of the art.

Okay, so the artist is actually a prankster who believes in the power of humor — and money. I cannot blame him for selling his “masterpiece” for such a high sum. I wish I had thought of it. Sadly, my artistic abilities are not very fruitful. But I can bake delicious banana bread, which is very tempting to eat and no certificate of authenticity required.

Judy Bluhm is writer and local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.