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Guggenheim Museum to reopen with controversial banana artwork

Remember the banana artwork from last year? (Perhaps we should rephrase: remember last year?) Yes, before 2020 went bananas, a mere piece of fruit duct taped to a wall was enough to get the internet talking. Well, the banana is back – and if you fancy a reminder of simpler times, you'll soon be able to view a version of the artwork in person.

Maurizio Cattelan debuted the piece, titled Comedian, at last year's Art Basel Miami – and it quickly gained notoriety when it sold for over $120,000. Now, an anonymous donor has gifted the work to New York's Guggenheim Museum, which has announced plans to reopen its doors on 3 October (below). If you're looking to create something a little less, er, conceptual, our art techniques guide has you covered. 

According to the New York Times, as sold, the artwork does not actually include a banana or even any tape. "What one buys is a certificate of authenticity and a surprisingly detailed, 14-page list of instructions, with diagrams, on how the banana should be installed and displayed."

The instructions dictate that the banana should be placed 175cm from the ground, and be replaced every 7 to 10 days (thank goodness). Indeed, it's a good job that, being conceptual, the banana can be replaced – the original at Art Basel was removed, peeled and eaten by another artist.

Banana art

Guggenheim Museum says the piece will offer little stress to its storage (Image credit: New York Times)

“Maurizio Cattelan’s work has been important to the recent history of the Guggenheim,” the museum's director, Richard Armstrong, said in a statement. “We are grateful recipients of the gift of Comedian, a further demonstration of the artist’s deft connection to the history of modern art. Beyond which, it offers little stress to our storage.”

While the banana attracted a ton of trolling last year (including a french fry-based parody by Burger King), its ironic humour feels rather welcome here and now in 2020 – and the banana should be more palatable without the $120,000 price tag. If you fancy brushing up on your art knowledge, take a look at our glossary of art terms (where you'll find every art-related word except 'banana'). 

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