Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s latest provocation, a sculptural intervention that consists of a banana duct-taped to the wall of Perrotin’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, has been sold. The work, titled Comedian (2019), had been priced at $120,000; like most of Cattelan’s works, it exists in an edition of three, plus two artist’s proofs. Two of the three editions of Comedian had been sold by Wednesday afternoon, and according to a Perrotin rep, the gallery is “currently speaking with a museum that wants to acquire the third.” The work comes with a certificate of authenticity, and owners of the work replace the banana as they see fit.
Speaking at the fair on Wednesday, gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin told Artsy:
We had been discussing this work for a couple of months. Maurizio told me, “I want to show a banana.” We discussed the best way to do it; Maurizio tried making it in resin, he tried it in bronze, but they just weren’t right. In the end, he decided: The best solution was a real banana. [. . .] It looks like a joke, but step back and look at it again, and it becomes so much more.
The work marks Cattelan’s first time making a new work for an art fair in over 15 years, but is a typically tongue-in-cheek gesture for the artist. Cattelan most recently made headlines when another of his provocations, albeit a far more elaborate one, was stolen. The artist’s solid gold and functional toilet, America (2016), was taken in a nocturnal smash-and-grab heist at Blenheim Palace in the U.K. That work had its premiere at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, where visitors queued for hours to make use of the golden throne.
This article has been updated with commentary from dealer Emmanuel Perrotin.