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Museum visitor eats Maurizio Cattelan's $160,000 (P8.8 M) banana artwork because 'he was hungry'

By Melanie Uson Published May 01, 2023 5:08 pm Updated May 01, 2023 5:15 pm

A college student in Seoul, South Korea has eaten the "Comedian," a 2019 artwork by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan that consists of a ripe banana attached to a wall with duct tape.

The globally famous art piece was on display in a museum in South Korea when the incident happened on Thursday, April 27, The Straits Times reported.

It is one of the 38 art pieces from the 1900s currently available for viewing at Cattelan’s “WE” exhibit at the Leeum Museum of Art. The artwork reportedly costs around $160,000 (P8.9 million). 

The student, whose identity remains unidentified, took the banana off the wall, ate it, and taped the peel back on the wall on Thursday afternoon.

When asked by the museum staff why he did it, the Seoul National University art major simply said that he was hungry since he had skipped breakfast that day. 

Later on during a phone interview with local news, he admitted that he thought the act of eating it was a form of art as well. 

“Damaging a work of modern art could also be (interpreted as a kind of) artwork,” he said. He also shared that the idea of reattaching the peel “was a fun way of looking at it.” 

Currently on display, Cattelan’s banana is being replaced every two to three days, as per his instructions. Despite the art student's disruptive action, the museum has decided not to claim damages. 

The same incident also happened in 2019 when performance artist David Datuna ate the same artwork, which he also posted on Instagram, calling his act a “Hungry Artist.” 

“’Hungry Artist’[,] art performance by me,” he wrote in his caption. “I love Maurizio Cattelan artwork and I really love this installation[.] It’s very delicious.” 

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A post shared by David Datuna (@david_datuna)


Cattelan made the “Comedian” artwork in an edition of three, with each of them selling for around $120,000 (P6.7 million) at the Art Basel Miami in the same year they were created.

The Italian artist is known for his hyper-realistic sculptures and paintings, incorporated with “humorous and cynical anecdotes” that “make us face the uncomfortable truth with a rude and shameless attitude and overturns the basis of our perception in an instant.” Hence, the creation of conceptual art, the “Comedian.”