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Is a Banana Taped to the Wall Truly Art?

Cattelan’s rendition of the socioeconomic parody portrayed through a banana—which some may regard as a rather comical fruit—is a well-crafted commentary on materialism, indeed. But why?

Pushing the Boundaries of Modern and Contemporary Art

White on White, Kazmir Malevich, 1918


When people think of art, they may refer to the masters of the Renaissance such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, or Donatello. Thank you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However, today’s contemporary and modern art reflects on the abstract and leaves the viewer pondering the significance of Malevich’s “White on White.” While a white square on a white canvas was a social commentary pivotal to the formation of the Russian Suprematism art movement after the revolution, we may still think… but why? Art depicts the current state of society and is the best representation of its people. As we progress throughout the 21st century and continue attempts to view society with a growth mindset, art steers away from realistic royal portraits and impressionism to pop art and expressionism.

Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue, Piet Mondrian, 1937


Although Neoplastic works by artists such as Piet Mondrian show a masterful approach to color theory and linear composition, where does the line actually need to be drawn? How much would you pay for a white square on a white canvas?

Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian

Comedian, Maurizio Cattelan, Exhibited at Art Basel, 2019


Well, how about a banana? Take out those blackened bananas, duct tape one to your wall, and you’ll be rich--welcome to the art world. While anyone can do that, art is about the story. Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian was originally on view at Art Basel in Miami, and was regarded as “questionably genius.” The work was initially purchased for $120,000. Although a banana is worth around $0.50, the value of money is altered throughout social ranks. Cattelan’s rendition of the socioeconomic parody portrayed through a banana—which some may regard as a rather comical fruit—is a well-crafted commentary on materialism, indeed.


If you feel the "Comedian" doesn't belong in a museum, you don't have to worry. It was eaten shortly after its display! If a banana taped to the wall isn't your taste, apparently it wasn't David Datuna's either as the performance artist complained of its rotting taste. According to Datuna, "In this case, it's not like I ate art." "As the gallery said, it's not a banana, it's a concept. And I just ate the concept of the artist. So I think this is cool, this is fun, this is what art is about."


Conclusion

Comedian, Maurizio Cattelan, W-Magazine, 2019


Art itself is a construct meant to be pushed and negated. With art periods constantly changing, everyone has the freedom to create any kind of work and tell their story. If your story is told by duct taping a piece of fruit to a wall, the art world has deemed it art! Just, please eat it before it rots. Or don't! It'll still be art.


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