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A more affordable version of the banana, seen at the art show Red Dot/Spectrum.
A more affordable version of the banana, seen at the art show Red Dot/Spectrum.
Photo by Laine Doss

Miami Embraces the $120,000 Art Basel Banana

Each year, Art Basel Miami Beach swoops into town with a multitude of parties, happenings, and art designed to start dialogues, make us contemplate the world around us, or simply shock us.

This year, there was a banana.

The ripe banana, duct-taped to a wall by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, was titled Comedian, and it became an instant Instagram star at Art Basel. Never has a fruit garnered so much attention in a matter of days. Unfortunately for the banana, it met a sudden demise when performance artist David Datuna peeled Cattelan's muse off the wall and consumed it. Datuna filmed it and called the art performance Hungry Artist.

It seems as though the banana has struck a nerve in Miami. Maybe it speaks to all of us that life is fleeting and that, one day, we all can be at the top of our game and suddenly be snatched off the wall of life and consumed. Or maybe the fact that someone paid $120,000 for a banana mirrors Miami's hype-beast culture that thrives on being seen at the right parties with the right crowd. Or maybe we just have a sense of humor.

In any event, the Magic City is a creative one, and many residents have made that banana their muse and created some very Miami art.

Rojo the Artist
Rojo the Artist
Photo by Laine Doss

At the art show Red Dot/Spectrum, Rojo the Artist turned himself into a canvas for his banana art. Known for his mixed-media pop-cultural pieces, the artist is using fruit and human for the first time, however.

Coco displays banana art (dog not included).
Coco displays banana art (dog not included).
Photo by Laine Doss

Gabi Lacombe's dog Coco is the muse for this inspired piece of art, seen on the streets of Wynwood. Lacombe decided to "get in the art zone" and maybe sell the untitled piece to fund a new pair of flip-flops that her other dog ate. "Maybe someone will give me $120,000, who knows?" she said. Sorry, Coco does not come with the artwork.

Miami Embraces the $120,000 Art Basel Banana
Photo by Laine Doss

This version by @MorphisArt won't attract fruit flies as it hangs on your wall.

Knaus Berry Farm's Thomas Blocher posted a sticky piece of art. Blocher said he appreciates art in all forms, and his parody is just a bit of fun. Most Miamians, however, might gladly pay top dollar for this sweet work — as long as they can skip the lines for Knaus' famous cinnamon rolls.

Ben Potts (of Beaker & Gray and the Sylvester) joined the banana in solidarity for this piece that makes him one with the yellow fruit. The work has a fitting asking price of $120,000, and if you purchased it, Potts, a talented bartender, might be persuaded to make you the best banana daiquiri of your life.

Wessel's Tropical BarBQ's Kris Wessel went to the source for his banana piece. The chef, who plans to open a barbecue restaurant in Little Haiti, captures the joys of youth in his depiction of bananas maturing on the tree.

They say bread is life, so what's more fitting than using a loaf of Cuban bread for this rendition. Martha of Miami encourages people to photograph the art — but not to eat it.

Bookleggers Library is offering a bargain version of the banana. The piece, titled Miami AF, is going for $75,000 — or best offer. The green plantain, fastened with festive green-and-white-striped holiday tape, would make a striking housewarming gift for the people who purchased one of Diesel's $5 million condo T-shirts.

Art or trash?
Art or trash?
Photo by Laine Doss

This discarded peel was found in the Mana Wynwood parking lot. Is it a stunning work of art that calls to mind the fact we are all consigned to shed our mortal skin at some point? Or is it simply a toddler's snack that fell from a stroller? That pretty much sums up Miami Art week in a nutshell. 

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