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Even Sagmeister Has Experienced Insecurity

We're looking back at major moments in the history of art and design to determine: what lessons can we learn to shape the future of design?

Illustration: Maddie Fischer

For today's history lesson, let's talk all about Sagmeister, circa 2008...


In 2008 Stefan Sagmeister presented his “Banana Wall” artwork in a New York gallery (the now defunct but once outrageous Deitch Projects). Sagmeister, known for his typography-based installations, glued 7,200 bananas of varying ripeness to the wall. The green bananas were used to create the sentence “Self-Confidence Produces Fine Results.” During the 24 days of the exhibition, as the bananas ripened and decayed, they changed their color (and smell, as exhibition visitors noted), allowing the words to disappear and then re-emerge again as the bananas turned brown.

It wasn’t only the smell which caused a stir. Sagmeister was criticized for the massive food waste, as can be read in the review “Sagmeister’s Show Stinks.” Perhaps the review had some influence over Sagmeister’s own confidence, as he responded with an official statement: “I wanted [a device] that would allow the content of the sentence 'self-confidence produces fine results'' to appear and disappear, just like my own self-confidence comes and goes. [...] I donated double the cost of the bananas to the coalition for the homeless in New York (before I read this blog).”


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