The Art Basel banana is drumming even more legal drama.
Back in 2019, Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan became the talk of Art Basel Miami with "The Comedian," his infamous sculpture of a banana duct-taped to a wall, which was eventually sold for $120,000. That said, the piece continued to create buzz after one of the three editions was eaten by New York performance artist David Datuna, before his collaborator, Rod Webber, scrawled "EPSTIEN [sic] DIDN'T KILL HIMSELF" in red lipstick on the empty gallery wall. The latter incident led to Webber having to defend himself against vandalism charges, the legal issues surrounding "The Comedian" didn't stop there, as Parisian wax artist and Cattelan's former assistant, Daniel Druet, recently filed an unsuccessful lawsuit arguing that he was the "sole author" of several works attributed to his ex-boss.
However, an American artist named Joe Morford is the latest person to take Cattelan to court, this time for allegedly plagiarizing his 2000 artwork "Banana & Orange," which features a banana and orange also affixed to a wall with duct tape. Unlike in Druet's case though, CNN now reports that a federal judge in the Southern District of Florida has ruled in favor of Morford, who is seeking $390,000 in damages — the total amount Cattelan made from selling the three editions of "The Comedian."
“Can a banana taped to a wall be art? Must art be beautiful? Creative? Emotive? A banana taped to a wall may not embody human creativity, but it may evoke some feelings, good or bad,” U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola wrote, adding that while no one can "claim copyright of the expression" of taping a banana to a wall, there is "sufficient" evidence of there being alleges "similarity in the (few) protected elements."
“In any event, a banana taped to a wall recalls Marshall McLuhan’s definition of art," Scola said, "‘Anything you can get away with.’”
Representatives for Cattelan have yet to comment on the suit. In the meantime, read CNN's full report here.
Photo via Getty / Kevin Frayer
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