The man devoured the work of art, and then said his own actions were a performance piece
A piece of art consisting of a market stall-bought banana taped to the wall of a gallery has been removed and eaten.
The artwork by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, had proven a hit at the Perrotin gallery at the Art Basel art fair in Miami, with large crowds gathering around the work to snap selfies.
But onlookers were stunned on Saturday, when a man ripped the artwork off the wall and proceeded to eat it.
Videos of the incident appeared to show the man, David Datuna, being challenged by a member of staff at the gallery, before describing his actions as “performance art.”
“I love Cattelan artwork and I really love this installation. It’s very delicious,” he explained on Instagram.
The banana was sold last week for £90,000, making it an eye-wateringly expensive choice for a snack.
‘The banana is the idea’
Despite the destruction of the physical banana used in the piece, the gallery has stressed that the abstract artwork is still intact.
“[Datuna] did not destroy the art work. The banana is the idea,” Lucien Terras, a director at the Perrotin, told the Miami Herald.
The piece comes with a certificate of authenticity, the gallery owners said, permitting them to periodically replace the banana used.
No arrests were made over the incident.
“This has been interesting,” Miami Beach police Captain Steven Feldman told the Miami Herald. When asked if he had ever heard of someone deliberately destroying artwork at the fair, he said, “not that I can remember”.
Symbol of humour
The unassuming piece of fruit taped to the wall clearly meant so much more than it seemed to the art world. It was described by the gallery owners as “a symbol of global trade, a double entendre, as well as a classic device for humour.”
The artist behind the banana, Maurizio Cattelan, is known for his tongue-in-cheek pieces, including a fully-functional gold toilet titled ‘America’ which also made the news when it was stolen from Blenheim Palace.
It’s not the first time the art world has been ruffled by the destruction of an expensive piece in front of audiences.
Bansky’s Girl With Balloon piece was deliberated shredded by its own frame the moment after it was sold at auction at Sotherby’s in 2018. But the stunt only seemed to cement the graffiti artists’ rebellious reputation in the eyes of audiences and the buyer still paid £1m for the work.