Left: My digitally created version of Maurizio Cattelan’s banana/duct tape conceptual art. Right: the original.

Long term followers of my blog know I’m not a huge fan of Maurizio Cattelan’s banana duct-taped to a wall stunt. Some might even say that I was one of its most outstanding critics [see: Is Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 Banana Brilliant Art or Bullshit on a Platter? and A Moment of Solipsism Triggered by Maurizio Cattelan’s Banana.] But one of the effects of Cattelan’s banana art is that it’s the second thing that may come to mind when one thinks of a banana and art, the first being the Warhol banana that was on the cover of the Velvet Underground’s debut album:

Neither the Cattelan piece, as an image, nor the Warhol silk screen are aesthetically of any inherent interest, but both were catapulted to iconic status because of exterior hype. It is difficult to disentangle what is aesthetically satisfying and what is merely familiar in the contemporary art audience’s minds, as generations have been engineered to believe in the paradigm that visual art serves the purpose of proposing ideas in linguistics. That said, curiously, my digitally taped banana looks good, while Cattelan’s actual banana doesn’t.

With and without color and texture (“materials”).

Lest anyone think I’m missing the point, I do realize that aesthetic indifference is a historical precedent going back to Duchamp’s “Fountain”, and is considered a perpetually significant criticism of the visual end of visual art.

If you want to understand contemporary/conceptual art, it is the art of coming up with the next gimmick.

That’s a bit harsh, but as someone with an MFA in the discipline, I’m pretty sure really a lot of conceptual art has a bullshit element to it. If you give up on conceptual art, as I have, and just try to do something like illustration, you have to give up the BS-crutch, which is the ability to talk anything into relevance. This is NOT to say all conceptual art is bullshit — I don’t think it is — but that there is definitely an overwhelming element of subjective and relative contextualizing to impart meaning on something that might otherwise seem both meaningless and visually uninteresting (ex., Duchamp’s Fountain or Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes].

Whether Cattelan’s infamous conceptual breakthrough was utter bullshit on a platter or not (I’m pretty sure it was], it has nevertheless become a pillar in the contemporary art institution. And so quite naturally, you might say inevitably, it popped up in my own consciousness to recreate Cattelan’s “sculpture” after I made a banana in Blender as a practice exercise.

Damn, even though I made it and know it’s digital, a day later and it looks real to me.

It also occurred to me to animate the banana, so that the tape falls onto it and wraps around it. You can see this video on my Instagram, by clicking on the image below.

There’s something curious about my animation, which is that, even more than the still image, it has the scent of “contemporary art” about it, which I predicted it would. So, in addition to doing this as an exercise in a few technical aspects of Blender, I also wanted to test to see if one could make passable contemporary art (which is not the same thing as fine art) with it. You can.

There’s another weird thing, which is that — at least for me — if I look at the photo of Cattelan’s banana, and my digital recreation, I really have a hard time negotiating between my eyes and my brain which one is the super important work of contemporary art by a celebrity multi-millionaire artist, and which is the one by someone nobody’s ever heard of, and which has no monetary value at this point. The virtual reality threatens to appear in some ways more real than the photo (ex., the tape really sticks it to the wall, and the textured grit of the stucco helps cement it].

If you’re like me, well, I have this thing where I will learn that one thing is right — like the pronunciation of a word — and the other is wrong, but I won’t remember which is which. I’m gonna’ go with the one on the left being the super important work of art, and the one on the right being nothing by nobody with, and less than 30 likes on Instagram.

I do quite like it, and I have a heap more ideas for Blender projects I’m dying to do. Don’t worry, they are mostly not conceptual, unless I’m in a prankster mood. And remember that while pranking the art world is considered the mark of contemporary conceptual art, pranking contemporary conceptual art isn’t considered anything.

If you’re wondering how this image or animation punks Cattelan’s piece, you just need to come up with any ridiclous thing, as long as you can make it into a grammatically correct sentence (how does Milo Moire’s performance of dropping paint-filled eggs out of her vagina onto a canvas below critique Jackson Pollock?]. So, for example, while Cattelan only taped a banana to the wall once, my animation does it indefinitely, therefore he is upstaged.

Oh, right, it doesn’t need to be grammatically correct, just decipherable, and the more absurd the better.

For the record, I don’t consider my creation an important work of contemporary art, nor that which it is based on. I do think it’s good practice, and kinda’ cool.

Stay tuned for more serious work.

~ Ends


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6 replies on “Wayne Vs. Cattelan: Blender for Contemprary Art

  1. Yup, making art-like objects is “good practice, and kinda’ cool”
    Artworld doesn’t really effects me; yet, I watch it like passing a wreck on a highway. Not from fear, art world might as well be on Mars for me. Jealousy of their wealth and fame? A bit maybe. But I opted for security over success decades ago, so that ship has sailed.
    Have you tried put a banana in a blender? in a gallery (w/ the proper concept, of course, a deconstruction of Cattelan, Warhol and corporate branding) it’d be art. At home it’d be a smoothy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well put. I love the part where a banana in a blender could be art, in the right context, but outside of that, it’s a smoothy. There’s so much packed into that funny analogy. And I happen to agree.

      The art world might as well be on Mars for you, me, and I’d guess more than 99% of the population. That’s one of the great failings of contemporary art, which is that it has very little popular appeal.

      Music, on the other hand, appeals to 99% of the population. I don’t now anyone who doesn’t enjoy one kind of music or another from the last half century.

      This is all due to the official course of fine art shifting away from painting and imagery, and to conceptual mind games.

      However, there’s an incredible amount of traffic on sites like DeviantArt, ArtStation, and IG that comes from people using various programs and apps to make their own art (whatever the quality).

      The Blender community alone is enormous, with dedicated sites, and a plethora of YouTube channels dedicated to it.

      Art goes on outside of the “art world” and includes the political cartoons, social commentary, insights, and witty observations of one Howard Johnson.

      Like

  2. yes to all of this..am very glad i found your blog….also- never heard of Blender so learned something new today. I really gotta get my head out of my pigments and start being more aware again.Interestingly i never thought to type in art or artists in the search box on here…go figure… Loved this article , and the links on the side bar. Probably be stalking this blog often..thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

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