7,200 bananas

Craft & Design

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Stefan Sagmeister’s works are on display @ Deitch in NYC, January 31, 2008 — February 23, 2008 @ 76 Grand Street, New York. The bananas you see here are real, all 7,200 of them on a giant wall – it smelled like 7,200 bananas too, slightly rotting –

Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far, an interactive exhibition by Stefan Sagmeister, opens at Deitch Projects on January 31, 2008. The exhibition will include works that have a life of their own, transforming throughout the exhibition as viewers engage with them. Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far is timed to coincide with the release of a new book of the same title, which surveys Sagmeister’s illustrious career.

Stefan Sagmeister is one of today’s most innovative and influential graphic designers. His conception and application of graphic design goes above and beyond traditional notions of the practice, taking it to the realm of performative and conceptual art, painting and sculpture. Sagmeister is most widely known for his album cover artwork for bands like The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads and Lou Reed, and for books, like Mariko Mori’s Wave UFO for the Kunsthaus Bregenz, which function as sculptural objects.

7,200 bananas @ the Deitch – Link & more photos.

114 thoughts on “7,200 bananas

  1. brad says:

    Wow. I’m sure there are plenty of homeless people in New York who couldv’e found a better use for all of those bananas.

    What a pointless waste.

  2. pt says:

    @brad – i think the same argument could be made for anything that is considered “art” – museums could be schools, or free housing, or hospitals. there are so many things that could be “better” than art, it’s hard to say where that type of suggestion would end.

    i live in nyc, from experience talking to homeless people and from people who work with the homeless, food is generally not the problem, there are enough programs that can feed people – the problems are a lot more complicated . i don’t think a few thousand bananas would solve any of the issues i’ve seen.

  3. Nice says:

    phil, then if we take a million tons of wheat and burn it in the name of art too, is that a legitimate use of art while people are starving right next to the bonfire?

    Go suck up to GRL a bit more, phil, you and they both are disgustingly warped.

  4. pt says:

    @Nice – welcome back.

    1. i can’t answer question about a fictional burning of a million tons of wheat next to starving people until it happens, when it does please email me and i’ll comment on it then.

    2. what does this have to with GRL? they have nothing to do with this art event, the artist or anything else. i don’t agree or like everything they do, but i think they have created things that made sense to cover on MAKE, and the media/arts/electronics world has done the same so i don’t think it was just me who found some of their work provocative. and that’s ok, that’s how art is – some people will like it, some won’t.

    if you look at my post i didn’t even say what i thought about this installation, it’s art and for people like you and brad to comment on.

    i don’t see what i did or GRL did in regards to this art installation to deserve being called “disgustingly warped” – you’re free to criticize here but please keep things civil here in the comments.

  5. Charles says:

    Looks awesome. I especially like the effect of an endless carpet of fruit in the second photo. Does this feeling hold up in person or is it just a good photo?

  6. pt says:

    @charles – it was pretty endless. – i’ve never seen that many bananas in one eye shot before.

  7. Jamesbuilder says:

    Heh, good response PT. Isn’t Mr. Nice the same fool who harshed on Make NYC?

  8. pt says:

    @Jamesbuilder – please keep it civil and on topic, bananas – lots of them.

  9. macegr says:

    They should have made this into a floor that people had to walk on. Squish…maybe put stepping stones in. And line the ceiling and walls with bananas, so you walk through a tunnel of bananas and come out the other side somehow different. Still, pretty cool, and I’m not too broken up over the use of bananas as they’re pretty cheap and renewable, didn’t require much energy to process compared to a wall of lamps, for example. I don’t really like eating them, either.

  10. Mike says:

    What an incredible waste of perfectly good food. Sickening, almost. If they hurry they can still make a whole lot of banana bread!

  11. Tim says:

    It is sickening yes.
    But I think it makes a point in that way- in reality, 7200 bananas is pretty minimal compared to what the city of New York alone would waste in a day or two.

  12. Jory says:

    This isn’t art! I truly believe artists should get approval for their “art” because of irresponsible actions of evil doers like this!

  13. X says:

    Take one down, pass it around, 7199 bananas on the wall.

  14. The Thompson Five says:

    Neat, soon to be the worlds largest fruit fly colony.

  15. ZIma says:

    Mr. Nice = troll.

  16. Nice says:

    okay, on topic…an installation of perfectly good food rotting in a city where people are going to bed hungry is not art it’s disgustingly warped.

    I say GRL is relavent because they produce a lot of things they call art which phil loves but is disgustingly warped

    I was very complimentary of Make NYC, from what I heard, I think it was a fantastic event, very well organized and run. I “harshed on” phil’s coverage of that excellent event. If you’re going to flame, please do try to get your facts right.

  17. pt says:

    @Nice –

    1. your opinion is your own, not everyone here needs to agree with you for it to be considered art. obviously enough people do think it’s art for it to be in a well funded and well attended gallery in soho, nyc. the artist appears to have had his work in many high profile places…

    “Stefan Sagmeister is one of today’s most innovative and influential graphic designers. His conception and application of graphic design goes above and beyond traditional notions of the practice, taking it to the realm of performative and conceptual art, painting and sculpture. Sagmeister is most widely known for his album cover artwork for bands like The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads and Lou Reed, and for books, like Mariko Mori’s Wave UFO for the Kunsthaus Bregenz, which function as sculptural objects.”

    but that doesn’t mean it’s art, it also doesn’t mean it’s not art either. but luckily it’s just not up to you, me or any one person. maybe the MAKE site isn’t your cup of tea, or wall of banana – that’s ok too, there are millions of other sites that post all sorts of things that are less proactive.

    2. i don’t think i’ve ever said i “love” what GRL does – i usually leave that up to the community to comment on with their thoughts and opinions. you don’t like GRL, that’s ok, i think we all get that by now – i’m sure they’ll survive without your support. perhaps you should email them and tell them how you feel. and again, GRL seems to have been considered at least interesting enough for the art and tech community to celebrate them in all sorts of ways. it’s not like MAKE is the lone glowing throwie in a giant mass of GRL opponents.

    stop by on monday, i happen to have a GRL related post going up – they made business cards from dollar bills with a laser cutter. i suspect there will be a lot of engaging conversations for everyone to enjoy, young and old.

  18. Dirkus says:

    OK, no trolling here, just making an observation.

    WHAT, exactly, is this piece trying to say? All I get out of it is that there are 7200 bananas that could have been used as food SOMEWHERE by SOMEONE now rotting on a wall. Is this supposed to provoke thought? All it does for me is provoke anger.

    Sure, seeing a large quantity of some item that you normally don’t see a large quantity of can definitely have a “Wow” factor to it, but in this case, the “wow” is quickly replaced by “Why” and “WTF is that SMELL?!”

    I think we really need to rethink what we praise as art. Honestly, if I staple 2048 chicken things to a wall and call it art, does that MAKE it art? Pretentious airs and unusual presentation does not a masterpiece make, folks.

    OK, OK, so I’ve ranted to this point, and I’ve probably made someone upset, so allow me to make one more point: What would *I* have done with 7200 bananas?

    Hand them out. Everywhere. For free. Photograph people’s reactions. Print the images, all 7200 of them, and make a mural of them. At the center of the installation? A small cooler of fresh bananas for the viewers to take and eat as well. I’d entitle it “This Is Bananas”. The statement I would expect it to make? There’s a couple really. First would be the fact that it’s rater sad the most folks look at you with great suspicion when you’re handing out things for free. This would likely be self evident in most of the images. The fact that kids are not spoiled by this kind of thinking. You’d see that in the images too. Then there’d be an underlying message that no-one except my immediate family would get: I am seriously allergic to eating bananas. I can handle them, but if I eat them, my throat closes up. Instead of throwing away 7200 bananas that I have no use for, I decided to do something crazy, something “completely bananas”… be nice and give them to people.

  19. Dirkus says:

    In fact, I’m so nice that I hereby release my previous idea under the collective commons attribution license. If anyone has access to that many bananas, feel free to perform and produce the aforementioned installation. All I ask is that somewhere visible on the piece you hide the words “Hi, Dirkus.”

  20. pt says:

    @Dirkus – that sounds like a cool project, do it up and i’ll post it up here on MAKE. if anything, art usually inspires people to do things — it looked like it worked in this case.

  21. Dirkus says:

    @pt – True, art should inspire. But wasteful pseudo-art only inspires out of anger. True art should inspire out of the sense of awe or enlightenment you get from the piece.

    For instance, what about that one performance artist Mark McGowan in London a couple years back who’s “work” consisted of leaving numerous sinks running for a year, wasting hundreds of thousands of liters of water to make people think about conservation? Was that “art”? Or was it a wasteful display of disregard for the good of his community?

    Working against the thing you’re trying to drive people towards, relying on the viewer’s anger, is a cop-out. Find a more creative way to get the message across. Find a way to make people THINK about the subject, instead of provoking knee-jerk reactions. That’s where Art comes from. A knee-jerk is just that, a sudden, but short lived reaction. Making someone THINK about the subject leaves a lasting impression, possibly one that will stick with them for life.

    This artist could have done so much more. He’s created knee-jerk reactions from so many people, but I would guess more than 80% of them will forget about this whole thing in a week. Instead, he could have inspired people to change the views of the people around them through random acts of kindness, an idea that not only sticks with the viewer, but gives them rewarding results when they reproduce the work themselves later.

    Artists who use anger to provoke thought are simply hiding behind a thin veil of pretentiousness, trying to disguise their lack of thought behind the over-stretched banner of “art”. This installation, just like the running water “performance art”, is just Trolling in Real Life, and deserves a healthy dose of banhammer. Sadly, the curators of many museums have fallen victim to this trolling, and take it for actual creativity. It’s a sad state, really.

    Right, enough ranting over this, I’ve better things to do. This “installation” has wasted more than it’s share of my time, just like those rotting bananas.

  22. Rich says:


  23. Africa says:

    At pt-I agree with you that there might not be that many homeless in the US that starve to death.

    The same might not be true in African countries.

    This “art” is suppose to cause these knee-jerk reactions to it. I think art that does that pretty cheap and worthless.

  24. pt says:

    @Dirkus – so at least we both agree that this inspired you to think of something different, new or how you’d do it different – for me that’s one of the great things about art. it’s ok for you to think it’s “wasteful pseudo-art” but not everyone thinks that and i’m sure *all* art could be called that depending on what you think is wasteful.

    you might want to contact the artist and tell him what you think, usually artists want to hear things about their works (good and bad). at MAKE, we’ll present things that people have made and (hopefully) have thoughtful civil discussions about them – thank you for being part of this one.

    as far as other comparisons, i haven’t seen the works of mark mcgowan.

  25. pt says:

    @Africa – i think that there are many important issues surrounding homelessness in the USA (include food concerns) as well as the majority of the world which has even dire situations.

    i’m not sure if this art was meant to cause “knee-jerk” reactions, or if it’s cheap and worthless – that’s for everyone who sees it to decided and for people in the comments to consider. i’m pretty sure there are opinions all over the map on any type of art and that is what makes art so interesting. we can all participate in some way.

  26. Jamesbuilder says:

    Mr. Nice did you read TFA?? PT didn’t do this piece he wrote about it. Thank you PT. Mr. Nice do you think writers do every project they write about? As someone who was actually at the MAKE NYC meeting PT’s coverage was fantastic, go troll somewhere else.

    PT can we subscribe to comments here? Some one has to tell this troll to buzz off!

  27. pt says:

    @James – hi james, thanks for the kind words. once we move to MT 4 (moveable type 4) i think we can do RSS feeds for all the comments. but until then i’m asking everyone to keep it civil – “Nice” can say anything he/she wants (up to a point) but that doesn’t mean we can’t be polite and respectfully disagree.

  28. Nice says:

    “1. i can’t answer question about a fictional burning of a million tons of wheat next to starving people until it happens, when it does please email me and i’ll comment on it then.”

    It’s so funny when you use your twisted logic. Do you really think your made a valid statement there or you had no reply so you had to pretend to divert it away?

    So if you can’t comment on something until it happens, I guess you don’t know if it would be good or bad if terrorists set of a nuke in a population center because it’s never happened. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that would be a bad thing.

    @Jamesbuilder, I never said PT put the food out to rot. Just as I never said anything bad about make NYC. Please learn to read before you post.

  29. pt says:

    @Nice – i don’t see what terrorism has to do with bananas and art containing bananas.

    i suppose it could be a fun game to create fictional events and imagine how each of us would react to them and share those stories. maybe a board game “what would you say if horrible thing X happened…” it seems impossible to win a game like that though, not sure i’d want to.

    i think most people would find it a little uncomfortable to comment on hypothetical situations like the ones you’ve come up with, i do – so far it’s been to burn a million tons of wheat next to starving people and nuking entire cities. the only person here talking about death, starving and violence unfortunately is, well – you… those aren’t positive at all – i hope no one is really fixated on those things. most people here are looking to learn, share and comment in constructive ways – perhaps we have a different outlook on things and the human potential. that’s ok, just keep things, um, nicer?

    you’re welcome to continue to comment here, but i’d ask you keep things a little less confrontational with other commenters and makers, you’re also welcome to email me if you’re bothered by bananas, but i’m not the artist – just someone who wrote about it without any opinion so far as jamesbuilder said earlier.

    on a related note (and because a maker IMed me about this) all this talk of bananas made me actually want to buy some – so i did some quick calculations, i think the exhibit spent around $1,900 in bananas – that’s just a guess based on $0.79/lb here and 3 bananas weighing roughly 1 lb.

  30. The Thompson Five says:

    Does anybody else remember Sandy Skoglund’s Spirituality in the Flesh? I’ll take the smell of 7200 bananas over 80 lbs. or raw hamburger any day.

  31. Gwen S. says:

    Let me hear you say this s#*t is bananas!

  32. MyOpinion says:

    Even if it is art, just sad to see food go to waste.

  33. Anne says:

    Wow!! This is so cool!! How did the bananas stay on the wall?

  34. Jamesbuilder says:

    Keep on talking Mr. Nice you sound like an idiot.

  35. bacidath says:


  36. moxielady says:

    OK, so I build stuff for a living. How did he get them all to stay where he put them? As to whether it’s art, I believe that one of the functions of art is to help us see the beauty of life around us. Now I’ll admire the banana before I eat it.

  37. Joel says:

    I know the artist personally and my company made/installed the giant monkeys that are not featured in that picture. Stefan Sagmeister’s company spent a lot of time trying different glues and epoxys to find the right one. Stefan gives away to charity far more than the cost of those bananas so it’s this just a big “to do” over nothing?
    The picture does not show that originally some of the bananas were green and it spelled out the saying “self-confidence produces fine results” and was part of his ongoing series “Things I Have Learned in my Life so Far”. It was made out of produce so it makes sense. Look at this link to see it before it started to rot: http://flickr.com/photos/35652755@N00/2234113419/

  38. Jacob says:

    I think it’s fascinating, to be honest. Bananas release ethylene as they ripen, which is a hormone that accelerates the ripening of any fruit nearby. It will be very interesting to watch the the patterns that form as these ripen.

    I wish there was a time-lapse of this installation…

    Also, I’d be *very* interested to know exactly how much the self-righteous commenters give to charity each year vs. Sagmeister, et al.

  39. GM says:

    I love it when whacked-out, wonky-eyed artists and smug, bleeding-heart liberals duke it out!

    More! More! How many could have been fed on Hirst’s floating shark in formaldehyde???

    C’mon, ladies — let’s draw some blood!

    Then we can debate whether to paint with it or make it into sausage for the starving homeless.

  40. Adam says:

    Should sculptors smelt their copper and bronze artworks – or should cities such as NYC with municipal installations smelt them – because the metals contained therein could be used to purchase food for the homeless?

    Get a grip. There are bigger things to worry about.

  41. Bob says:

    Funny Brad, I make the same argument about gigantic multi-million dollar mega churches with their million dollar sound systems.

    All that money coulda gone to the poor.

  42. Wikipedio says:

    sit down!

  43. Geoff says:

    I hope he leaves it up. They need to time lapse the rot and see what happens to that mound over time. Neat.

  44. jh says:

    Wow, bring on the fruit flies.

  45. schizflux says:

    i guess this makes one a real aesthete – looking at (without seeing) how a lot of bananas rot as opposed to just one with some mental extrapolation to deduce the result. cheers.

  46. Jack says:

    Is it certain that these bananas were not eaten afterwards? Regardless, I think there are much more shameful wastes of resources than several hundred dollars worth of bananas.

  47. Okrim Al Qasal says:

    Damn gringos, you are wasting food when you could be feeding the poor and homeless.

    That´s your stupid mentality. You are rotten.

  48. Kelly says:

    Other than the waste of it all… this is just kinda, um, dumb. Sorry.

    It’s not really that special or unusual. I’ve seen much more interesting stacks of bananas in the grocery store done by a minimum wage producer worker who had too much RockStar that day. (Yes, I saw the photos of what it looked like with the green bananas. It’s still lame.)

    I’m just so over this kind of “art”. Yawn.

  49. steven schmitt says:

    andy warhol

  50. billybob says:

    Banana peels contain the neurotransmitters tyramine and dopamine, as well as tyrtophan which, when ingested, increases levels of serotonin in the body. Normally these amounts are insignificant but 7200 peels raises the obvious dilemma:

    couldn’t we be getting a homeless person high, instead?

  51. Derek says:

    I think you have too much time on your hands to bicker about 7200 bananas – I can’t believe how many posts there are here!

    Artists will always do weird things that don’t make sense. He certainly got you talking…

  52. Derek says:

    I think you have too much time on your hands to bicker about 7200 bananas – I can’t believe how many posts there are here!

    Artists will always do weird things that don’t make sense. He certainly got you talking…

  53. Derek says:

    I think you have too much time on your hands to bicker about 7200 bananas – I can’t believe how many posts there are here!

    Artists will always do weird things that don’t make sense. He certainly got you talking…

  54. billybob says:

    “I can’t believe how many posts there are here!”

    (Yeah, imagine if everyone did it in triplicate, like YOU you you…)

  55. Gabriella says:

    … This guy is a little fruity…. :D

  56. pradeep says:


  57. flee1906 says:

    i personally believe that there are many homeless / starving people in the world that would look at this and feel so neglected.
    u can feed so many people with all those bananas that are just going to go to waste!

    no offense, but i’d rater not see artworks like that at all.

    peace out.. :)♥

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