The Guggenheim Now Owns Maurizio Cattelan's Banana!

September 21, 2020

In December 2019, a past that now feels like another lifetime, at world's biggest art fair an artist taped a banana to the wall of his gallery's booth. Someone then bought that banana for as much as $150,000. Both of these events made headlines worldwide, and not just of art newspapers.

We then heard rumors that the infamous banana will end up in a large, well-known museum. Now, we know for sure that it did.

Maurizio Cattelan's Comedian has become part of The Guggenheim Museum's collection as an anonymous donation, it was reported by The New York Times. The audience will therefore will be able to see the work in the future, although the date for something like that is yet to be announced.

Comedian - A Comedy Indeed

Maurizio Cattelan's duct-taped banana, or Comedian as it was aptly and officially titled, marks one of those instances where it's much ado about everything but the artwork itself - mostly because there isn't one, really. It is the Fountain of the 21st century, if you will, because anyone can install a urinal, or paste a banana on a wall in their home, point at it and call it art. And yes, someone paid serious money for both of these.

Does being part of the esteemed Guggenheim Museum's collection now make it art more than before?

The Maurizio Cattelan Banana at The Guggenheim

Since the announcement was made, we got to learn a little more about the "conservation and installation" of this particular "artwork".

Namely, as we would expect, Comedian does not actually include a banana and/or tape. What one gets in this transaction is a "certificate of authenticity," a detailed, 14-page list of instructions containing diagrams, a bunch of numbers, and pointers as to how the work should be put on display - for example, the banana should be changed after 7 to 10 days, and it should be affixed 175 cm above ground, at a 37 degree angle. The rest will probably be kept secret, as to preserve the artwork's "authenticity."

Lena Stringari, the Guggenheim’s chief conservator, told NYT that the instructions will be quite easy to follow and are quite complete in addressing questions.

Of all the works I have to confront, this is probably one of the simplest. It’s duct tape and a banana. 

At Art Basel in Miami in 2019, Perrotin sold all three editions of Maurizio Cattelan's Comedian. Artnet revealed two of the buyers: Sarah Andelman, the founder of the Colette boutique, and Miami’s Billy and Beatrice Cox, of the Bancroft family, the former owners of Dow Jones & Company.

Does this mean we will get to see the duct-taped banana in another museum as well? Remains to be seen.

Featured image: Maurizio Cattelan - Comedian. Courtesy Perrotin.

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