David Datuna: The Hungry Artist Who Ate a $120,000 Banana Art at Art Basel

 A banana duct-taped to the wall grabbed international headlines after three editions of it were sold for prices between US$120,000 and US$150,000 at Art Basel Miami. The artwork continued to go bananas in the art world as a hungry artist took it off the wall and ate it amid a crowd of stunned onlookers.

David Datuna ate the US$120,000 banana

The artwork titled Comedian was created by Maurizio Cattelan

Titled Comedian, the artwork comprised of a banana bought in a Miami grocery store and a single piece of duct tape. Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan created three editions of the banana art and presented them at Perrotin Gallery’s booth at Art Basel Miami.

The gallery's founder, Emmanuel Perrotin, said the bananas are “a symbol of global trade, a double entendre, as well as a classic device for humor.” Two editions of Comedian were sold for US$120,000 each to two French collectors on the first day the work was exhibited. Several museums are bidding for the third edition for $150,000.  Maurizio Cattelan has been known for his satirical artworks which include an 18-karat golden toilet titled America, which was stolen from Blenheim Palace a few months ago.

Comedian was on display at Perrotin and became an instagrammable selfie spot 

Maurizio Cattelan is also the creator of the golden toilet sculpture which was stolen from Blenheim Palace a few months ago

Last Saturday, American artist David Datuna walked into Perrotin Gallery’s booth at the fair. He peeled the overripe banana from the wall and called himself a “hungry artist”. Datuna later posted the video on his Instagram account with the caption "Art performance by me. I love Maurizio Cattelan artwork and I really love this installation. It's very delicious."

The act immediately shocked everyone on the scene. The empty spot on the wall was replaced with a fresh banana and Police were later deployed to guard the replacement banana. Datuna was not arrested and no further action will be taken. "[Datuna] did not destroy the art work. The banana is the idea," Lucien Terras, a director at the gallery. 

David Datuna is a New York-based artist known for his Viewpoint of Millions series that explores the sources and meaning of cultural identity from each unique point of view. Datuna’s signature technique in Viewpoint of Millions is a network of positive and negative optical lenses suspended over a large-scale layered, collaged and painted image. The mixed media palette often includes photography, newspaper articles, magazine clippings, paint, and color.

In October 2011, Datuna’s portrait of Vladimir Putin made out of miniature images of Mona Lisa was sold for US$269,000. In December 2011, Datuna's Steve Jobs / Ayn Rand portrait sold for US$210,000 at SCOPE Miami Art Show

Datuna's Steve Jobs / Ayn Rand portrait

The artwork is made out of miniature images

Datuna’s portrait of Vladimir Putin 

In 2015 filmmakers Michael Huter and Brian Bayerl produced a documentary about Datuna called Datuna: Portrait of America. The film tells the story of Datuna's escape from the repression of the former USSR to pursue his dream of cultural and artistic freedom in America.

On October 18 2016, Datuna unveiled his Make America Stronger Together installation at the doorstep of Trump Tower in New York City. He has combined the themes MAKE AMERICA (Donald Trump) with STRONGER TOGETHER (Hillary Clinton) representing a divided nation. The work consists of two American flags facing back-to-back covered in a collage of newspapers, quotes, and images reflecting the current climate with the messages "SOS" and "ONE."

Make America Stronger Together

A closer look at Make America Stronger Together

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the artwork, together with the stunt pulled off by Datuna, Perrotin Gallery decided to remove the banana art one day early.