Installation view of Maurizio Cattelan’s <em>Comedian</em> on display in NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 to 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Sean Fennessy

Maurizio Cattelan

Photo: courtesy of the artist

Maurizio Cattelan
Italy born 1960, lived in the United States 2002–

Ground Level
NGV International
View on map

Comedian consists of a banana that has been taped to the gallery wall. The instructions accompanying the artwork suggest that the banana should be replaced every seven to ten days. In December 2019, Perrotin Gallery premiered Comedian at Art Basel Miami. Around the world, the work has inspired conversations and debate about the nature and value of art. Artist Maurizio Cattelan suggests that, ‘Comedian is exactly like an apple for Cézanne: the minimum common denominator that everybody recognises. But you need to alter its condition. Cézanne does it with brushstrokes, I do it with gaffer tape’.

Comedian is characteristic of a tendency in Cattelan’s work. In 1999, Cattelan duct taped his art dealer, Massimo De Carlo, to a wall for the opening of his exhibition A Perfect Day. For the work Novecento, 1997, Cattelan suspended a taxidermied horse from a baroque ceiling. La Rivoluzione Siamo Noi (We are the Revolution), 2000, features a miniature doll, in the likeness of the artist, suspended from a coat rack. In each of these works, Cattelan literally elevates an out of place object, transforming it into something darkly humorous.

Born in Padua in 1960, Maurizio Cattelan is one of the most popular and controversial artists in contemporary art. Taking freely from the real world of people and objects, his works offer irreverent commentary on art and institutions. His playful and provocative use of materials, objects and gestures set in gallery contexts forces conversation and engagement. He first achieved notoriety on an international scale in New York with La nona ora (The ninth hour), a wax statue of Pope John Paul II hit by a meteorite, which was first exhibited in 1999 at the Kunsthalle Basel.

Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York