Bananas: A Reminder That Art is Not Dead

A satirical critique of Maurizio Cattelan’s “Comedian,” more famously known as the banana taped to a wall


Art—the greatest development of humanity—is a practice as old as civilization. For centuries, humans have been creating art: in the vast mountains of Asia, the great jungles of the Americas, and the scorching deserts of Africa. Art can rest an uneasy mind, heal a divided population, or speak directly to one’s soul. Art can take the form of a towering sculpture, a mesmerizing poem, a mind-melting melody, or, perhaps the greatest of them all, a banana taped to a wall.

Let us draw our attention to the pinnacle of modern art, created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, which is quite literally a banana duct taped to a wall. But don’t let its simplicity take away from its true value. Sold in 2019 for around $120,000, this artwork serves to remind us that the culture of art is, in fact, not dead.

We buy flowers knowing they will wilt, build towers knowing they will fall, and yet that is exactly what makes art so enchanting — knowing it will not last.”

In order to understand the allure of this artisan masterpiece, we must understand its symbolism. The banana fruit, as time steadily marches on, will rot. One day, this once beautiful yellow fruit will shrivel up and brown. The symbolism of the banana illustrates that while nothing lasts forever, the value of beauty lies in impermanence. If everything in the world were forever beautiful, nothing would be–the word itself would lose its meaning. We buy flowers knowing they will wilt, build towers knowing they will fall, and yet that is exactly what makes art so enchanting–knowing it will not last. So as the banana shrivels up and begins to reek up the room it’s in, remember that the stench stands for the beauty of impermanence.

Another beautiful symbol of this enchanting craftsmanship is the duct tape, placed diagonally against the banana, restraining it to the wall. It is well known that a banana, particularly its peel, is a tricky, slippery object, and when tactfully placed, can turn into classic slap-stick comedy. But the only thing keeping this banana from wreaking such havoc is the duct tape, forcefully binding it to the wall. As if the banana is Loki, the Norse God of Mischief, a force of evil, and the duct tape is the only thing holding it back from complete chaos, we are reminded that all order and stability in the world can dissolve like the stickiness of duct tape. The duct tape, gray from its grim purpose, serves as the epitome of strength, resilience, grit, and all the things that keep together the chains binding chaos in our lives.

And yet people criticize the masterpiece. They throw their stones and yell, call it absurdly priced and meaningless. They fail to recognize that it is more than just a random grocery store banana, more than just a fruit on a wall. It’s a lesson, a gift we should all cherish, a path to opening up the eyes of humanity, a means of peeling the layers of our soul and realizing that true art…

is a banana taped to a wall.