Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Ima
In autumn 2021, a Danish museum opened two large boxes to inspect two works it had commissioned from artist Jens Haaning.
But when museum staff removed the canvases, a new work that the artist had reported to the museum was titled Take the money and run — The canvases were completely blank.
The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg had granted Haaning a loan of 532,549 Dutch crowns, the equivalent of about $76,400. The money would be used to recreate two earlier works by Haaning that depicted, with real hard cash attached to a canvas in a frame, the average annual income of a Dane and an Austrian, and the considerable gap between them, making it which reflected salary differences. within the European Union.
Now, a Copenhagen court has ordered Haaning to repay most of the money (approximately $70,600), as well as the equivalent of an additional $11,0000 in legal fees.
“I’m shocked, but at the same time it’s exactly what I had imagined,” Haaning told Danish public broadcaster DR on Monday.
“We are not a rich museum,” said Lasse Andersson, the museum’s director. The Guardian in 2021, explaining that the money came from reserves destined for the maintenance of the building. “We need to think carefully about how we spend our funds and not spend more than we can afford.”
The court ruling deducted approximately $5,700 from the total loan amount to serve as Haaning’s artist fee and display fees, since the museum nonetheless displayed the blank canvases in its “Work It Out” exhibition.
The curators at the Kunsten Museum seemed to fully understand Haaning’s significance.
“Haaning’s new work Take the money and run “It is also a recognition that works of art, despite intentions to the contrary, are part of a capitalist system that values a work based on some arbitrary conditions,” the museum says in its exhibition guide. “Even the money that is missing from the work has a monetary value when it is called art and thus shows how the value of money is an abstract quantity.”
Haaning now appears to be in a bind, as he says he has no money to pay the museum.
“It’s been good for my work, but it also puts me in an unmanageable situation where I really don’t know what to do,” the artist told DR.