Artist Maurizio Cattelan released a new statement, saying that he was not aware of an existing artwork while making his famous Banana sculpture.
Titled ‘Comedian’, the artwork made huge waves when it was unveiled at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2019. The ‘sculpture’ was simply a banana stuck on a wall with duct tape. Sold for $120,000, the work divided critics and audience alike – with some calling it the vanity of ‘modern’ art, while others claiming it pushed boundaries. It became of the most iconic symbols of modern art in the last decade. The gallery and Cattelan himself, at the time, said that the work was a comment on how humans assign value to arbitrary objects.
However, Cattelan landed in legal trouble when artist Joe Morford accused him of plagiarism and copyright infringement. The Miami-based artist that Cattelan violated the copyright of his work, ‘Banana & Orange’, which was registered in 2020. Morford’s work includes a banana and an orange stuck individually on a wall with duct tapes.
Maurizio Cattelan initially denied all accusations of plagiarism. However, he has now modified his statement to say that he has no “prior knowledge” that Morford’s work existed. While presenting his case in court, Cattelan’s lawyers argued that the artist had not requested any access to Morford’s work prior to its creation. They also added that ‘Comedian’ was exhibited before Morford registered his own works for copyright, and hence, cannot be accused of copyright infringement.