Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 Banana Was Removed From Art Basel for Getting ‘Too Much Attention’

The gallery said the installation caused several uncontrollable crowd movements.

Art patrons take a picture with Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan's piece 'Comedian' (a banana duct taped to the wall) during Art Basel in Miami, Florida, USA, 05 December 2019. Art Basel represents over 250 art galleries onsite at the Miami Beach Convention Center and is considered one of the world's largest art festivals with art events throughout the city.Art Basel, Miami, USA - 05 Dec 2019 RHONA WISE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Having wandered onto a slippery slope where spectacle swells and then turns in on itself, a Maurizio Cattelan work made of just two simple materials—a banana and some duct tape—did not take a final star turn at Art Basel Miami Beach on Sunday. Instead, it was removed from the booth of Perrotin gallery, which announced that the fruit had been cleared away at 9 a.m., after too much attention made its display untenable for the last day of the fair.

“Art Basel collaboratively worked with us to station guards and create uniform lines,” a statement issued by the gallery said. “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.”

On Saturday, the wall hanging—titled Comedian—was eaten by a fair-goer, David Datuna, who deemed his gesture a work of performance art. And it has been the source of no small amount of gawking over the past few days since news started getting out that the piece—acquirable in an edition with a certificate of authenticity—had sold more than once for $120,000.

Perrotin’s statement continued: “Comedian, with its simple composition, ultimately offered a complex reflection of ourselves. We would like to warmly thank all those who participated in this memorable adventure, as well as to our colleagues. We sincerely apologize to all the visitors of the fair who today will not be able to participate in Comedian.”

Now the work will move into a next phase wherein it is certain to be the source of many questions for art-world insiders when they assemble over the holiday season with family members and others wondering about the state of contemporary art.

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