American artist accuses Cattelan of plagiarism over banana stuck on wall

An American artist, Joe Morford, has dragged Maurizio Cattelan to court: the accusation is against the work Comedian, the famous banana taped to the wall, which Morford says is a plagiarism of one of his works from 2000, also a banana taped to the wall.

Another accusation for Maurizio Cattelan: the Padua-based artist has just put the Druet case behind him (or at least the first round, if there are appeals), with the Paris court agreeing with him, who is now facing another controversy. This time the protagonist is Comedian, the banana taped to the wall with gray tape, which the well-known artist had presented at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2019.

U.S. artist Joe Morford has sued Cattelan on charges of plagiarizing a work of his that he claims is very similar to Comedian: it is Banana & Orange, a work that the artist claims dates back to the year 2000 (it was in fact registered that year with the U.S. Copyright Office) and consists of two green rectangular panels on which an orange and a banana had been taped with gray adhesive tape.

A judge in the Southern District of Florida granted the petition and initiated the plagiarism suit (Cattelan is represented by attorneys Kane Kessler PC and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, while Morford is represented by himself), as according to the latter, Cattelan’s and Morford’s respective works would bear enough similarities to pursue the prosecution. According to Morford, images of his Banana & Orange were readily available on Facebook and YouTube channels (specifically on YouTube since 2008, on Facebook since 2015, and on the artist’s personal website since 2016: the social and site dates actually match and are older than Comedian’s first appearance) and that therefore Cattelan may have seen them and been “inspired” by them (according to Morford, his work was accessed from 25 different countries), but it remains to be clarified whether this was really the case.

At present, neither Morford nor Cattelan has made any public comments on the matter. So it is not even known why Morford moved years after Comedian’s appearance, which netted a whopping $390,000 (in fact, three copies of his work, plus two proofs, were sold by the Perrotin Gallery, which represents Cattelan).

Thus comes a new tile for Cattelan, just after the conclusion of the affair that had resulted in the claim by French artist Daniel Druet. The works that were the subject of the accusation were wax, polyester resin and fiberglass sculptures that Cattelan had commissioned from him between 1999 and 2006: works made by Druet and signed, however, by Cattelan. For this he had demanded compensation of six million euros, but the matter ended with the prosecution being dismissed, since according to the Paris court, the work of art belongs to the person who conceives it." Now we will have to wait and see how the plagiarism charge will turn out.

American artist accuses Cattelan of plagiarism over banana stuck on wall
American artist accuses Cattelan of plagiarism over banana stuck on wall

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