An Artist Flung a McDonald’s Burger Pickle Onto the Ceiling – Now It’s Worth $6,200

The pickle is still there, stuck only by its own juices and residual burger sauce.

August 03, 2022

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Photo by: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Question: When is a McDonald’s cheeseburger pickle a work of art?

Answer: When someone says it is … and slaps a $6,200+ U.S. ($10,000 New Zealand) price tag on it.

An Auckland, New Zealand art gallery has just wrapped up a group show featuring a “sculpture” by Australian artist Matthew Griffin that is, according to an official description provided by the show, “Fine Arts, Sydney,” at the Michael Lett Gallery, a “slice of pickle from a McDonald’s cheeseburger flung onto the ceiling,” where it has stuck there indefinitely thanks to nothing more than the residual burger sauce and its own juices.

The sculpture’s name: Simply, “Pickle.”

But is it really art? Or is it a joke?

Perhaps it is both. And it is nothing if not thought-provoking.

“Generally speaking, artists aren’t the ones deciding whether something is art or not – they are the ones who make and do things. Whether something is valuable and meaningful as artwork is the way that we collectively, as a society choose to use it or talk about it,” Ryan Moore, the director of Fine Arts, Sydney, which represents Griffin, mused to The Guardian.

And hey, no worries if it makes you snicker. “A humorous response to the work is not invalid – it’s OK, because it is funny,” Moore said.

In the end, “Pickle” is what it is.

“As much as this looks like a pickle attached to the ceiling – and there is no artifice there; that is exactly what it is – there is something in the encounter with that as a sculpture or a sculptural gesture,” noted Moore.

The work follows in a proud real-food-as-art tradition. (See also: Maurizio Cattelan’s “Comedian,” a banana duct-taped to the wall that sold at Art Basel in Miami in 2019 for $120,000.)

But the buyer of Griffin’s work, who will need to cough up not only $10,000 New Zealand dollars, but also an additional $4.44 New Zealand bucks to buy another cheeseburger, will be purchasing not the pickle itself (or perhaps not only the pickle?) but instructions on how to re-create the sculpture themselves in a space of their choosing.

“It’s not about the virtuosity of the artist standing there in the gallery throwing it to the ceiling – how it gets there doesn’t matter, as long as someone takes it out of the burger and flicks it onto the ceiling,” Moore told The Guardian. It is the “pure,” “joyful” gesture itself that makes “Pickle” “so good,” he adds.

Some social media commenters agree with Moore’s positive assessment, calling Griffin’s work “Perfection,” “Priceless” and “Superb.”

“Love it,” enthused one broad-minded art fan.

But at least one Instagrammer wasn’t buying it, writing, “I got kicked out of a McDonalds by the police for doing this when I was a teenager, now it’s art😳”

Eye of the beholder.

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