Art History Lab

Banana Wall Art: Exploring the Controversial and Intriguing World of Art

How did a banana taped to a wall become the talk of the town? How did it become an artwork that sold for $120,000?

What makes it so valuable, and is it even art at all? In this article, we’ll explore the controversial and intriguing world of art, starting with the banana wall artwork that took the world by storm.The art world is always full of surprises.

In December 2019, a piece of artwork created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan became the center of attention at the Art Basel fair. The artwork was a banana taped to a wall – a piece of fruit that could be bought for less than a dollar at most grocery stores.

The artwork, titled “Comedian,” sold three times for $120,000, making headlines across the world. Who is Maurizio Cattelan?

Maurizio Cattelan is an Italian artist who is known for his humor and sarcasm in making satirical sculptures. He has made artworks such as a taxidermied horse hanging from the ceiling and a kneeling Pope struck by a meteorite.

His artworks often make the viewers question their preconceived notions and beliefs.

Banana Taped to Wall by Maurizio Cattelan

“Comedian” is not Cattelan’s first controversial artwork. In fact, his sculptures have always made people question their authenticity, essence, and purpose.

The banana taped to the wall was no different. The artwork was a provocatively simple act of placing a banana on the wall with a single piece of duct tape.

It was not the banana or the tape that was being sold but the concept behind it. The banana represented ideas of fruitiness, perishability, and populism.

The duct tape represented ideas of simplicity, ease, and practicality. The artwork was a statement of the art market’s functioning and authenticity.

Is it the physical object that’s being sold and valued, or is it the concept and the idea behind it? Can art be replicated or be immaterial?

The artwork’s value lies in its conceptualization and not in its materiality. Cattelan wrote in his statement, “The artist reserves the right to reproduce the work.” It means that even though the physical object was sold, anyone could reproduce it.

The artwork’s certificate of authenticity was Cattelan’s signature and the handwritten directions for the installation, without which, the banana and tape wouldn’t be an artwork at all. Is A Banana an Artwork?

The banana taped to the wall is an example of ready-made artwork. This style of artwork was pioneered by artist Marcel Duchamp, who chose commonplace objects such as a urinal or a bicycle wheel and displayed them as art.

A ready-made artwork turns an ordinary object into an artwork by taking it out of context and giving it a new purpose. Zoe Leonard’s “Strange Fruit,” which is a collection of banana skins sewn together, is another example of a ready-made artwork.

Leonard transformed the ordinary banana skin that we usually discard into something beautiful and meaningful. It symbolizes the struggle of African Americans and the oppression they face.

The identity of an artwork lies in its idea and purpose, not in its materiality or physical appearance. It means that even if someone reproduces an artwork, it won’t be the same as the original.

An artwork’s certificate of authenticity is proof of its originality, and it’s what makes it valuable.


The banana wall artwork by Maurizio Cattelan made headlines, sparked debates, and inspired curiosity about the world of art. It challenged the notion of what an artwork is and how we assign value to it.

The artwork was an example of ready-made artwork that transforms ordinary objects into something extraordinary by giving them a new purpose or context. And it was a reminder that the identity of an artwork lies in its idea and purpose rather than its materiality.

Taking Shots at the Art Market

Maurizio Cattelan is not one to shy away from poking fun at the art market and institutions, as seen in his previous satirical installations. Emmanuel Perrotin, Cattelan’s art dealer, first showcased one of his most famous installations, “Errotin, the True Rabbit” in 1996.

This installation featured a realistic rabbit dressed in a tailored suit and tie, moseying around the gallery. The piece was a commentary on the art world’s pretense and superficiality, with the rabbit ironically making more sense and authenticity than most of the conceptual art at the time.

“Comedian,” the latest exhibit, is another example of Cattelan’s unapologetic satirical humor. Cattelan’s artwork is a reflection of the art market and its value system.

The banana taped to the wall had a stylized smile, inviting viewers to reflect on the excesses of America’s wealthy. The artwork may seem like a mere fruit taped on a wall, but it represents the current state of the art market, which values investment and speculation over art’s intrinsic value.

The banana’s materiality is juxtaposed with its stylized facade, which made it a coveted piece in the art market. The banana’s perishability is also a metaphor for how the aesthetic of an artwork can easily change over time.

The banana peels on the floor signify the fragility and transience of an artwork’s value. Its value could change from one moment to the next and is subject to change based on the market’s demands.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the name and pricing of the Banana Wall Art?

The artwork is called “Comedian” and was sold for $120,000 at the Art Basel fair in 2019. The artwork consisted of a banana duct-taped to the wall, which represented the conceptual nature of art and its value.

2. What is the value of performance art?

Performance art is a form of art that involves the artist’s body and presence as an integral part of the artwork. The value of performance art lies in its ephemeral quality, which means that the artwork is not permanent and will not exist after the performance.

However, it is the experience and documentation of the performance that give it meaning and value. The value of performance art can be seen in the case of “The Hungry Artist,” where performance artist David Datuna ate Cattelan’s “Comedian,” which sparked debates about the value of conceptual art and the significance of a certificate of authenticity.

3. Can the banana be replaced, and why does it matter?

The banana and duct tape are interchangeable, and a replacement banana can be used. However, the certificate of authenticity and the artist’s signature give the artwork its value.

The concept of an artwork, even if it is replicable, is what makes it valuable, not the material itself. “Comedian” raises the question of whether art has become a commodity or a status object, rather than something that represents beauty, creativity, and innovation.

In conclusion, Maurizio Cattelan’s “Comedian” may be a seemingly simple artwork, but it raises several questions about the nature and value of art. Cattelan’s satirical humor and provocative conceptualization challenge the art market’s excesses, pretensions, and the commodification of art.

The banana wall artwork represents a critical reflection on the current state of the art world, where value is placed on investment and speculation rather than the artwork’s intrinsic value. Art is more than a commodity; it represents creativity, beauty, and innovation, and “Comedian” urges viewers to question their beliefs about art’s nature and purpose.

In this article, we explored the controversial world of art through Maurizio Cattelan’s “Comedian” artwork – a banana taped to a wall that sold for $120,000. We learned about Cattelan’s satirical humor and how he pokes fun at the art market and institutions.

Furthermore, we discussed the meaning behind ready-made artworks and how the identity of an artwork lies in its idea and purpose, not its materiality. Finally, we answered common questions about the artwork, including the value of performance art and why the banana could be replaced.

“Comedian” urges us to question our beliefs about art’s nature and purpose and re-evaluate the current state of the art market, where value is placed on investment and speculation rather than beauty, creativity, and innovation.

Popular Posts