Did you hear? Of course, you did. Duct tape and our favorite yellow magical fruit has become the latest homage to contemporary fine art found in this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach. Basel Miami has the world’s contemporary leaders on display annually. Leaders from the master’s including Picasso, Warhol, Wesselmann and Jack Pierson to contemporary notables like Ed Ruscha, Tom Sachs, and Tom Friedman. What makes contemporary fine art both fine and pop is the artist’s intent.
In the case of Maurizo Cattelan’s installation, “Comedian”, the visual representation is why pop art has meaning and gives perspective. Perrotin Gallery received unprecedented attention for Cattelan’s Duct Tape and Banana installation. Stories abound swirled globally because of it’s purported sale, the price paid and the antics which followed the opening excitement. Sunday, the gallery had to remove the banana as crowds had to come for the selfie and their own sense of fame. Social media continued with its own juxtapositions. Using a material like duct tape and pairing it with a nourishing food item like a banana causes some to understand what it took for those 2 items to be placed together and expressed as fine art.
Consumerism and what it takes for society to have both items are part of the reflection found in “Comedian.” According to the artist, “Comedian” is… “Comprised of a real banana affixed to the wall with a piece of duct tape, this new work is no different than Cattelan’s hyper-realistic sculptures lampooning popular culture and offer a wry commentary on society, power, and authority. In the same vein as Cattelan’s America (2016), this piece offers insight into how we assign worth and what kind of objects we value. The idea of this work came to the artist’s mind a year ago. Back then, Cattelan was thinking of a sculpture that was shaped like a banana. Every time he traveled, he brought a banana with him and hung it in his hotel room to find inspiration. He made several models: first in resin, then in bronze and in painted bronze for finally coming back to the initial idea of a real banana….”
The interplay of the past with the present is also essential to understanding Cattelan’s role with the work. In the 60’s Andy Warhol illustrated the cover of Velvet Underground and Nico’s LP. It was a musical experiment and artistic venture through and through. Lou Reed was panned initially only to later be recognized for the brilliance of the Warhol produced album. Today many references in fine art were found readily at the various Miami fairs. What was not of course was the 15 minutes of fame and hype created by Perrotin and Cattelan’s efforts. That alone was worth the sale price – circa $120,000.