Last year, to mark New York Magazine’s 50th anniversary, we asked 50 well-known artists to make commemorative artworks, each in the form of a magazine cover. Printed as posters, they appeared all over New York, constituting a citywide exhibition. One of the contributors was Maurizio Cattelan, the prankster-visionary who is perhaps best known for the solid-18-karat-gold toilet he installed at the Guggenheim in 2016 (and then at Blenheim Palace, from which it was eventually stolen). What he came up with for us was a photograph of a banana duct-taped to a wall. This week at Art Basel Miami Beach, citing our commission as “the inspiring source,” he hung its three-dimensional representation. It’s priced at $120,000.
“I was trying to imagine something to symbolize my love of New York, and it was difficult,” he told New York today. “There was a time when the Greek coffee cups were everywhere, and I thought somehow the banana was something that now you can find at every street corner. And [my thinking about this] goes on forever from there — but for sure an eggplant, say, would not have been so effective.” As for the duct tape, it’s the material that holds together half of this aging city: “In my apartment, the pipes are held together with it — I always say that I’d be more concerned if I ran out of that tape than out of toilet paper.” I noted to him that his total materials cost is a little lower, this time, than with the gold toilet. “With one you lose money, and the other you break even,” he responded, and then laughed.
The new work has been produced in his usual edition (not to say “bunch”) of three pieces plus two artist’s proofs. Two of the three have already been sold to unnamed collectors; Cattelan knows one of them, and the person “totally makes sense as the buyer.” He’s not in Miami for the fair — he doesn’t go — and, in his New York apartment this morning, he said, “I just ate one of the two artist’s proofs.”
Update, December 8: We hope Cattelan has good potassium insurance. (Lucille Bluth can maybe help with that.) A prankster decided to remove, peel, and eat the taped fruit on the second to last day of Art Basel Miami Beach, per a report in the New York Times. Performance artist David Datuna posted the act of artistic deviancy on his social media accounts, and, as you can view below, he laughed while eating the banana as confused staffers surrounded him. “It’s all in good spirits,” a spokeswoman for the festival later said, confirming no legal charges would be placed against Datuna. The solution? The banana was replaced with a new one, obviously.