In defence of the $163k banana

Art may be long, and life short, but the existence of a hand fruit is most ephemeral of all. Last week, at Art Basel Miami Beach, the art world's premier champagne-steeped swop meet, no work drew more grins, guffaws and selfies than a new sculpture by the semi-retired Italian trickster Maurizio Cattelan: a banana duct-taped to the wall, its peel already speckled with brown spots. It's titled Comedian.

By last Wednesday, it had already won art-world notoriety, and on Saturday it achieved a public visibility that any artist would envy, after a self-promoting wag tore the banana off the wall and gobbled it up. (Not many iconic artworks can also be said to be a rich source of potassium.)

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2019, with the headline 'In defence of the $163k banana'. Subscribe