September 18, 2020

"Lena Stringari, the Guggenheim’s chief conservator, said the instructions will be quite easy to follow and are quite complete in addressing questions like how often to change bananas..."

"... (7 to 10 days) and where to affix them ('175 cm above ground'). 'Of all the works I have to confront, this is probably one of the simplest,' Ms. Stringari said. 'It’s duct tape and a banana,' she added. The conservation of conceptual art is not always so straightforward for museums increasingly asked to preserve works made from of all kinds of ephemeral substances, like food. How does one care for a scale model of an Algerian city made out of couscous? A sculpture made of interlocking tortillas? Fruit stuck on a coatrack? (All works the Guggenheim has shown.)... 'Once you think art is an idea and the material is secondary then it does not matter if that material lasts for a long time,”' said Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian in Washington. The Hirshhorn has its own conservation specialists who tend to art created from 'time-based' materials that degrade. 'A lot of them are really challenging. The museum’s role in a way is to preserve the work forever.'"

From "It’s a Banana. It’s Art. And Now It’s the Guggenheim’s Problem/Ephemeral works of art, like Maurizio Cattelan’s creation out of fruit, can often pose conservation challenges for the museums that have them" (NYT).

Highly rated comment: "This type of work is infuriating. It puts the rest of us creative types in the awkward position of defending support for the arts when this is what that support is being used for. Sure, in better times, the conversation sparked by the 'work' has value, but the tone deaf absurdity of the thing itself plus its maintenance in this time of national trauma is a bit grotesque."

Maybe work that causes you to think deeply about time and decay is especially valuable during a national trauma.

44 comments:

Michael K said...

In a visit to London's Museum of Modern Art, I saw the fish "sculpture" which is a board with nails driven into it in the outline of a fish. String is wound around the nails. I wondered who had the task of renewing the string ?

At least it was better than the leaking can of artist's poop.

tim maguire said...

This type of work is infuriating. It puts the rest of us creative types in the awkward position of defending support for the arts when this is what that support is being used for.

This sense of obligation to defend art reminds me of Exit Through the Gift Shop, when Banksy and Shepard Fairey are talking about Thierry Guetta, who started to make a film about artists and decided to become one himself. Even though they clearly don't like his work, Banksy and Fairey can't bring themselves to say it's bad art. They have no problem calling Guetta retarded, and do so more than once, but the closest they come to admitting they don't like the art is when Banksy says he used to encourage everyone to make art because he felt everyone has something to say. Then he pauses, sighs, and admits, "I don't do that anymore."

chuck said...

Reminds me that the brain of a T. Rex was about the size and shape of a banana. Art matters!

tim maguire said...

Having replaced the banana and, necessarily, the tape that holds it up, isn't Stringari now the artist? (And why is Lena Stringari the curator of the Guggenheim and not the villian in a 1920's silent horror film?)

Lucid-Ideas said...

"It puts the rest of us creative types in the awkward position of defending support for the arts..."

"...in this time of national trauma is a bit grotesque."

Holy. Fucking. Shit. Pick one you hysterical bint.

The 'national trauma' bit is so rich, it's wealthy. Yes, 'The Banana' affirms and amplifies this trauma. It practically grabs you by the pussy!

PHenry said...

If it is not the original artist replacing the banana and duct tape, does it still qualify as original or has it degraded to a reproduction? Do people go to the Guggenheim to see reproductions?

Joe Smith said...

A combination of people who think they're smart (they're not), too much money, and too much herd mentality.

There is 'good' conceptual art. Taping bananas to a wall ain't it.

Joe Smith said...

P.S. Lena Stingari would be a great name for a 17th century violin maker : )

tim in vermont said...

Maybe work that causes you to think deeply about time and decay is especially valuable in difficult times.

Sure. P.T. Barnum would understand your thinking. I think his sign “See the egress!” was first rate fine art, worthy of any museum that would maintain this as some kind of continuous joke. It’s like wokeness, the more absurd things they can make you believe, the easier it will be for them to take over, then woe betide any artist who seeks to express an unapproved opinion. I think it’s no coincidence that ‘woke' and ‘joke’ are so similar in sound.

Any culture can be deconstructed, and I am starting to see the value in drawing lines in the sand, even utterly arbitrary ones.

Mikey NTH said...

I suppose the easiest thing to do is display the work, but refuse to purchase it. "Upkeep is too time consuming for the limited staff on hand," or some such similar excuse.

Texan99 said...

I can imagine an artist cracking up with her friends over her ability to get highly paid curators to replace her rotting banana on a schedule. Video of the curators working would be performance art in itself.

rhhardin said...

The International (2009) has a very satisfying destructive shootout scene in the Guggemheim.

Lem said...

Somebody ate the banana, in an earlier... re-incarnation.

BarrySanders20 said...

The woke say that bananas left in public places are racist. How is this not?

I say free the oppressed bananas from their adhesive prisons. We know these so-called curators engage in systemic fruitistic brutality. Peel away the surface layer -- the whole bunch are incapable of being anything but fruicist. Because what do the curators do when the bananas turn black? They throw them away! Guilty without even the right to a-peel!

What do we need?
Banana reform!
When do we need it?
Now!

Joe Smith said...

On a tangential note, Tom Wolfe rips modern architecture in 'From Bauhaus to Our House.'

Good read...

FleetUSA said...

Garbage art. Art that is ephemeral is not "art" IMHO. True art lives on and can be revisited.

I agree with the commentator, why waste precious money on this.

Rosalyn C. said...

People's lives could be considered "time based media." A person starts out in one place with an identity, but rarely remains the same. I briefly knew Lena Stringari back in the early 80's, when she was studying painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. At some point she became "Lena" but when I knew her she went by "Carol." I thought maybe I was wrong, it was a different person, but I tracked down a biography which confirmed she's the same person, or another version. In her considerable bio she didn't mention her time at PAFA.

There is a whole field now called Time Based Media, TBM. Some years ago someone tried to convince me to get a Masters degree in new media (digital) at Savannah College of Art and Design, but I prefer the old media, stuff you can touch, over the virtual world. I just discovered there was a TBM symposium at NYU back in 2018.

Jamie said...

I prefer to "think deeply about time and decay" by contemplating the ruins of ancient architecture or marveling at the expanse of the Grand Canyon. But hey, that's me. Who am I to tell anyone that "time and decay" are worth more consideration than a wrinkled nose and idle curiosity about who has to change the banana?

What gets me about pomo art is the implicit (sometimes nearly explicit, as in this case!) acknowledgment that art is as meaningless as pomo people think everything else is. What a depressing (not to say inconsistent and internally contradictory) worldview.

Richard Dolan said...

"Maybe work that causes you to think deeply about time and decay is especially valuable in difficult times."

If a banana taped to the wall works for you, well, you go, girl. Seems very bizarre to suggest that art is whatever "causes you to think deeply" about X (fill it in with your favorite flavor). Perhaps you want to nominate your favorite Scalia opinion as the art object of the decade?

YoungHegelian said...

So, Carmen Miranda's chapeaux were actually works of art, just ahead of their time. Who knew?

Actually, some of Miranda's stuff, especially from her Brazilian, pre-Hollywood years, is pretty good.

Oso Negro said...

In time, everything is needed, then nothing at all.

Achilles said...

Oh god.

JMW Turner said...

Ephemeral art...For every solid historical, artistic expression in the guise of J.M.W Turner's "The Fighting 'Temeraire'", or "Slavers throwing overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon coming on", the latter considered by John Ruskin a testament to immortality in Turner's oeuvre, we patrons in the contemporary art world are presented with such ephemeral crap as Andres Serrano's Piss Christ.

JAORE said...


Maybe work that causes you to think deeply about time and decay is especially valuable during a national trauma.

So let it rot.

Or is the artistic value that the banana rots and public money is spent to restore the banana just to let it rot again and again?

RichardJohnson said...

The only other application of banana to art that I recall is the Andy Warhol banana sticker- you could peel it off- on the The Velvet Underground & Nico album . If I'd known I was only one of 30,000 to purchase the album, I wouldn't have lost the album during one of my moves.

Darrell said...

I'm going to splooge in a high heel and mail it in.

Rick.T. said...

"Having replaced the banana and, necessarily, the tape that holds it up, isn't Stringari now the artist?"
---------------
Ah, related to the ship of Theseus paradox!

WhoKnew said...

Who want to bet that the National Endowment for the Arts is paying for this nonsense with our tax dollars? But to paraphrase Glenn Reynolds, when we object, we'll be called anti-artistic.

tim in vermont said...

The exhibit of the toilet from the plumbing store covered this ground, didn’t it?

Balfegor said...

If the artist made it out of perishable materials, why try to preserve it past it's natural life? I like flowers and flower arrangements. I like fancy platings of food. These are all art, in their way, but they're not meant to last. Consumption and decay are part of the package. Take a picture if you want to preserve it. If the artist wanted it to last forever, he should have made it out of nonperishable materials.

Earnest Prole said...

Wait until they realize it’s actually a takedown of CNN.

glam1931 said...

If the work leads you to think deeply about time and decay, wouldn't that actually do so most effectively by being allowed to rot?
Of course bananas attract fruit flies quickly, and that's a maintenance problem.

h said...

In my opinion, there was a time (in the 1950s-1970s) in which artists legitimately explored the question of "what is art?" by creating works that required little or no technique, but only a "concept" or idea. A canvas all white. A canvas all black. A flat piece of slate as a sculpture. And this "evolved" into performance art: a naked woman on the stage with chocolate syrup. I have asked people: "if I cut the grass in my front yard with the intention of cutting the grass, it is not art. If I cut the grass in my front yard and advertise it as "performance art/modern dance: cutting the grass", does that make the grass cutting "art" suitable for a NEA grant? In other words is it the intention of the artist that makes an effort "art". To me (as a non artist -- except I do cut my grass) this definition of art makes it ripe for corruption.

Roger Sweeny said...

'Once you think art is an idea and the material is secondary then it does not matter if that material lasts for a long time,”

Once you think art is an idea, it doesn't matter if there's anything material. The idea still exists. The museum should simply discard the material when it degrades too much. Even better, don't buy it in the first place. Just post a little card with the idea. After all, "art is an idea."

Two-eyed Jack said...

"Maybe work that causes you to think deeply about time and decay is especially valuable in difficult times."

If I thought that, I'd be rereading "The Magic Mountain," but I'm not, so maybe I'd best stick to works that encourage scoffing. They make me feel better in difficult times.

Josephbleau said...

Many artworks undergo restoration over time. This one just needs restoration frequently. Art is an abstraction of form. In this case art is the form.

Matt Sablan said...

"This type of work is infuriating. It puts the rest of us creative types in the awkward position of defending support for the arts when this is what that support is being used for."

-- This is what conservative creative types have been saying about art *even during times when there was money to piss away.*

Mr. Forward said...

Display the duct tape only and change the name to "Banana Split".

Mike of Snoqualmie said...

Take pictures of that so-called art, then put it in the trash.

mockturtle said...

Idiocy.

LordSomber said...

"This type of work is infuriating. It puts the rest of us creative types in the awkward position of defending support for the arts when this is what that support is being used for."

I like to think that most "creative types" across the country don't lose sleep about defending (public?) support of the arts, and instead just go about pursuing their artistic endeavors, regardless.
I never quit my day job to do so, and neither did any of my "artistic" relatives -- even the cousin with permanent MoMA pieces who kept his construction day job.

Tina Trent said...

The first and last time I went to the Guggenheim, the exhibit was dozens of massive photo montages of two middle-aged naked chubby gay men squishing their genitals on a glass coffee table, shot from under the table. In some pictures, they were, well, crapping on the table. In others, they were riding flying turds. And there was worse. My friend and I, students on our big visit to the famous museums, couldn't stop giggling. But all the sophisticated people silently contemplated the poo or murmured insights about the poo. Watching them was far more interesting than looking at the pictures.


Is going to see the banana with the duct tape better? Worse?

Equal?

mockturtle said...

Maybe someone should eat the banana then replace it with a similarly sized turd evoking deep thought about recycling.

Tina Trent said...

Duct tape won't help with that, mockturtle.