Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.
At the start of December, the Art Angle team had other, loftier ideas for the show’s first Christmas episode. Maybe we would dig into the most important developments in the art world this past year or examine the growing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and their effect on the city’s cultural community. But then, we lived through this year’s edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, where superstar Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan duct-taped an ordinary supermarket banana to the wall of his gallery’s booth at the fair, declared it an artwork, and priced its first edition at the eyebrow-raising sum of $120,000.
From there, all hell broke loose. And after the astonishing sequence of events catapulted Comedian (the work’s official title) beyond the art world and squarely into the center of pop culture, it became a stone-cold guarantee that, if your job has something—anything—to do with art, the banana will be one of the first topics of conversation your friends and extended family bring up during your holiday celebration. So we caved to the inevitable and made this episode your banana survival guide, covering everything you need to know about this (in)famous artwork in just over 20 minutes.
First, Artnet News senior writer Sarah Cascone, who broke the story of the banana’s initial sales from the floor of Art Basel Miami Beach, charts how this once-anonymous fruit duct-taped to the wall became an obsession for the world at large. Then, Artnet News national art critic Ben Davis parachutes in to explain what it all means in the context of art history, and why, as a sculpture, Comedian is both slightly more—and much, much less—than meets the eye.
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