Danish artist ordered to repay $46,000 to museum for producing blank canvasses

Titled 'Take the Money and Run,' the piece was described as an explicit commentary on the funds the artist received from the museum.

Danish artist ordered to repay $46,000 to museum for producing blank canvasses
The Hill
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A Danish artist named Jens Haaning has been mandated by a court to reimburse the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg a sum of nearly 500,000 kroner (equivalent to $46,000). The directive follows a rather unconventional art submission by Haaning: two entirely blank canvases.

Titled “Take the Money and Run,” the piece was described as an explicit commentary on the funds he received from the museum, BBC News reported.

Originally, the museum's vision for the 2021 art project involved Haaning using the provided banknotes as elements within two art pieces. However, Haaning deviated from this plan, presenting two untouched canvases instead. In a candid revelation to dr.dk, he declared, “The work is that I have taken their money.”

While the museum demanded a full repayment of around 534,000 kroner (roughly £61,000 / €71,635 / $76,539), Haaning was resolute in his refusal.

The dispute reached its climax when a Copenhagen court, earlier this week, instructed the 58-year-old artist to pay back the museum 492,549 kroner. This calculated amount excluded the artist's professional fee and certain overheads associated with the artwork's presentation.

Lasse Andersson, the museum director, had initially responded to Haaning's audacious art submission with a mix of surprise and amusement. Recollecting his first encounter with the blank canvases back in 2021, he commented to the BBC's Newsday program, “He stirred up my curatorial staff and he also stirred me up a bit, but I also had a laugh because it was really humoristic.”

Post-judgment, while Haaning has expressed that he doesn't intend to escalate the matter legally, he finds himself in a quandary regarding the next steps. Speaking to TV2 Nord, he suggested that the entire episode, and the consequent media frenzy, significantly elevated the museum's revenues, far exceeding their initial investment.

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