Art Basel Miami is a premier art show showcasing the best new work from the world’s leading contemporary artist. This year, the greatest hype went to the artist who taped a $120,000 banana to the wall and to another artist who ate it.

The initial piece, Comedian, was created by Maurizio Cattelan, an Italian artist. He claimed that he had worked on Comedian on a full year to decide on how to allow the banana to manifest itself. While he had initially conceived of making a resin banana, the sculptor decided that a banana is supposed to be a banana. This banana was quickly sold for $120,000.

The subsequent action (performance?) was executed by Georgian-born David Datuna. When Datuna saw the Comedian and found out about its asking price, he decided that he would take the comedy to another level and consumed the banana in front of the gathering crowds. He did so despite not having any permission from Cattelan or the gallery!

Read the full article on The Guardian: ‘It is something deeper’: David Datuna on why he ate the $120,000 banana


What constitutes art, particularly in the world of contemporary art where seemingly anything goes when it comes to justifying the reason for your piece/ performance? Some of Cattelan’s previous works include large sculptures of an extended middle finger and golden toilets. With an artist’s certificate or a commission from an art gallery, it seems that now even the most mundane items can become works of art. 

Part of why Datuna decided to eat the banana was not because he found the idea of banana as art to be ridiculous, but that he was protesting the fact that it was being sold for upwards of six digits. The first two editions sold for $120,000 and the third one sold for $150,000.  In a world where many are facing food insecurity or do not have enough to eat, what does it mean when three bananas are sold for half a million dollars?

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. What do you think is the artistic value of a fruit being taped on a gallery wall? How should we ascribe value to contemporary art pieces?
  2. Should Datuna be penalised for eating the $120,000 banana that was taped on the wall since he did so without permission?

Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘masticate’: chew; to grind or crush food
  2. ‘pandemonium’: a chaotic situation; a wild uproar (due to anger or excitement in a crowd of people)