In Brief

Maurizio Cattelan’s Notorious Banana Sculpture Donated to Guggenheim Museum

The controversial sculpture has been donated anonymously to the New York institution.

A DIY recreation of Maurizio Cattelan’s “Comedian.” (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Editions of Maurizio Cattelan’s sculpture “Comedian” (2019), consisting of a banana duct-taped to the wall, sold for up to $150,000 at Art Basel Miami Beach last year, prompting criticism of the art world’s excess as well as fascination over what it makes possible.

In the days and weeks that followed (and for what seemed like too long), people in and outside the industry were recreating the controversial artwork at home and sharing it on social media. For some, its easy reproducibility was a clear testament to its lack of artistic value; for others, Cattelan had brilliantly tapped into the ironic humor and joy of conceptual art.

Now, one edition of the sculpture — or the rights to reproduce it, rather — will belong to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City following a donation by an anonymous collector who owned the work. (Perrotin Gallery sold three editions of “Comedian” at the Miami fair.)

The acquisition itself includes neither duct tape nor a banana; instead, it is simply a certificate of authenticity with 14 pages of installation instructions, according to the New York TimesThe banana should be affixed 175 cm (5 feet 9 inches) above the ground and changed every seven to ten days, the guide says. 

“Maurizio Cattelan’s work has been important to the recent history of the Guggenheim,” the museum’s director, Richard Armstrong, told Hyperallergic. “The 2011 summary exhibition All presented in the rotunda was daring and intensely memorable. We are grateful recipients of the gift of ‘Comedian,’ a further demonstration of the artist’s deft connection to the history of modern art.”

“Beyond which, it offers little stress to our storage,” the director added. 

The Guggenheim has no current plans to exhibit the sculpture.

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