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(Credit: Art Basel)

Art

Maurizio Cattelan to face plagiarism court case over banana work

@TomTaylorFO

Duct taping a banana to a wall was always going to kick up some controversy, even if Maurizio Cattelan did hint at the irony behind it by calling it his ‘Comedian’ piece. However, now the water it finds itself in is far hotter than the wrath of polarised critics. 

Last week, a Florida judge ruled that a fellow artist would be permitted to take Cattelan to court over a plagiarism case against the 2019 piece. Naturally, given the specificity of the artwork, that doesn’t bode well for Cattelan. 

Cattelan moved to dismiss the litigation brought against him by US artist Joe Morford, whose own Banana & Orange piece bears a striking resemblance in concept, but the court ruled against his motion to dismiss meaning a court case is likely to go ahead. 

District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. ruled: “Morford may be able to claim some degree of copyright protection in the ‘selection, coordination, [and] arrangement’ of these otherwise unprotectable elements.”

He mirthfully continued: “The question of whether a banana taped to a wall can be art is more a metaphysical question than a legal one. But the legal question before the court may be just as difficult—did Morford sufficiently allege that Cattelan’s banana infringes his banana?”

The metaphysical side of things was debated at end when Cattelan revealed the controversial piece at the Art Basel Miami Beach fair in 2019. However, Morton has held the US Copyright for his Banana & Orange installation since 2000. 

With that in mind, the court case is set to go ahead in the coming weeks unless it can be settled externally and more news is expected soon.

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