Artistic expression, for many, is a way to denounce and move consciences. For others it is a way to convey emotions or experiences. Then there is the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan who, with touches of provocation and a sense of humor, has sold his latest work of art, aa banana taped to the wall, for $120,000. Now, and for the second time in its history, this work has been devoured during an exhibition at the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul.
This time it happened in Seoul. As highlighted by the BBC and posted by Korean channel KBS on Twitter, a young student who was watching the opera tore the fruit, took his time eating the opera, and then put the shell back in his place.
The young man’s name is Noh Huyn-soo and he is an art student from South Korea. After eating the work —called “Comedian”, part of Cattelan’s “WE” exhibition— he claimed he did it because he was “hungry” after skipping breakfast.
The artwork consisted of a ripe banana taped to a wall at the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul.
Later, the museum placed a new banana in the same place, The local media reported it. Additionally, reports indicate that the banana is replaced every two to three days. The Leeum Museum of Art said it will not seek damages against the student.
In videos posted online, cries of “excuse me” can be heard as Mr. Noh removes the banana from the wall. He doesn’t respond and starts eating as the room goes quiet.
Noh later told local media that he saw Cattelan’s work as a rebellion against a certain authority. “Even damaging a work of art could be seen as a work of art, I thought that would be interesting… Isn’t he stuck there to eat it?” Upon hearing the news, Cattelan said: “No problem.”
It is not the first time that a visitor has eaten the bananas used for the work of the artist Cattelan.
In 2019, artist David Datuna pulled the banana off the wall after the artwork sold for $120,000 at Art Basel Miami.
The work is also embroiled in a copyright battle. In 2022, Joe Morford, a Glendale, California-based artist accused Cattelan of plagiarizing his 2000 work titled “Banana & Orange,” which shows the titular fruit attached to painted green backgrounds on a wall.
According to court documents, Morford, representing himself, registered the artwork with the US Copyright Office and posted it on his website and on his Facebook and YouTube accounts long before Cattelan created “They comedian”.
Cattelan’s lawyers argued that Morford “has no valid copyright” to elements of the artwork: the banana and the duct tape taped to the wall.
Another of Cattelan’s viral works was an 18-karat solid gold plating “entitled” America, worth an estimated $6 million. It was first installed at the Guggenheim in New York in 2016 and could be used by visitors.
Later in 2019, it was stolen from Winston Churchill’s birthplace at Bleinheim Palace in England, where it was on display. It has never been found.
Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.