Art is said to be in the eye of the beholder, but in the case of David Datuna, it moved rather rapidly from his mouth to his stomach.

The object in question was a banana, taped to a wall at a gallery in Miami by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, whose previous creations include the 18-carat gold lavatory which was ripped out of Blenheim Palace in September.

Datuna ate the banana in front of a crowd of gallery visitors. Photo / Instagram
Datuna ate the banana in front of a crowd of gallery visitors. Photo / Instagram

This was no ordinary banana, but part of an artwork which had already been sold for US$120,000 ($187,011).

This banana symbolised global trade, according to Emmanuel Perrotin, the founder of Art Gallery Basel, which hosted the exhibition. It was just another example of how Cattelan turned everyday items into "vehicles of both delight and critique."

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However, David Datuna, a New York-based artist of some distinction in his own right, decided to enhance the experience by eating the banana in front of an audience of gallery visitors.

"Art performance. Hungry artist," he said as he munched the banana which, it has to be said, was turning brown.

This was not an act of artistic vandalism, he said, insisting it was a gesture of respect.

His performance was captured for posterity by a crowd which had grown to over 20 by the time the banana had been devoured.

New York artist David Datuna said eating the artwork was
New York artist David Datuna said eating the artwork was "a gesture of respect". Photo / Instagram

Peggy Leboeuf, the gallery director, was not amused by the unauthorised improvisation by Mr Datuna, whose portrait of Vladimir Putin, constructed from miniature images of the Mona Lisa, fetched US$269,000 in 2011.

"He was not arrested. But we asked him to leave the booth and leave the fair.

"We have his contact and everything. We can go further, but I don't think we will."

The installation was removed on Sunday.

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All is not lost, however. The piece, entitled "Comedian" has retained its value thanks to a certificate of authenticity and the owner is free to replace the banana - and duct tape.