NEW YORK’S GUGGENHEIM ACCEPTS A DONATION THAT AWAKENS CONTROVERSY
Last week, the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan received an instruction manual valued between $120,000 and $150,000. The manual itself is not an artwork, but 14 pages of detailed layouts on where, how, and how often the banana must be replaced. Yes, it is "Comedian", the conceptual artwork that went viral last year at Art Basel Miami Beach.
The work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan conveys an irony that is hard to ignore. As usual in conceptual art, the work triggered a multitude of discussions and provided the opportunity to analyze the role of art, question the way its market works, and weigh the responsibility of the media and the explosiveness of the scandalous. It is interesting the way in which the existence, and above all the sale, of this work takes the rules of the game to the extreme and provokes a re-interpretation of the role of each of the entities that are part of the art world: artist, work, spectator, galleries, and, now with the news of the Guggenheim, museums. In a humorous and sarcastic game, Comedian sways in an almost dangerous limit of the definition of art where it risks losing all seriousness and ridiculing the concept of value. Being a double-edged sword, Comedian can be seen as abusing its disruptive character. Where is the limit between criticism and mockery, humor and insult? A philosophical discussion that continues to expand and that finds in this news a zenith; a vertex of the approach and dialogue of contemporary art.
This debate is now rekindled with the announcement that the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York has accepted an anonymous donation of the work, which incidentally does not include a banana or duct tape. “We are grateful recipients of the gift of ‘Comedian,’ a further demonstration of the artist’s deft connection to the history of modern art," said Guggenheim Director Richard Armstrong. The humor of the fact does not escape from him, who added "Beyond which, it offers little stress to our storage".
Arte al Día, directed by Diego Costa Peuser, questions the action of the Guggenheim, an esteemed institution, and wonders about its repercussions outside the strictly artistic spheres. How does it represent us? How much do we get carried away by the rebellious and novel? Eccentricity, sensationalism and fatuousness are some of the sentences that contemporary art receives and that the circus that surrounds “Comedian” fuels.