Danish Artist Ordered to Repay Museum for Supplying Blank Artworks

A Blank canvas

Genuis. The artwork "Take The Money And Run". Credit: Sandraveinberga/X

A Danish artist has been instructed to reimburse nearly 500,000 kroner (€67,000) to a museum after he provided it with two huge blank canvases for a project he named “Take the Money and Run.”

In 2021, the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg had intended for Jens Haaning to incorporate the banknotes he had been given into two art pieces. The artwork was to consist of two glass frames with lots of bank notes.

Instead, he delivered blank canvases.

“The artwork is that I have taken their money”, he told the Danish newsagency, DR. “I encourage other people who have just as miserable working conditions as me to do the same,” he said, adding that recreating his past works would have put him 25,000 kroner out of pocket.

Following a protracted legal battle, a Copenhagen court has now said that Mr. Haaning, aged 58, must refund the museum 492,549 kroner. This amount was determined to be the sum the museum had provided him, minus his artist’s fee and mounting expenses.

Mr. Haaning initially declined the museum’s request to return all of the money, totaling approximately 534,000 kroner (£61,000 / €71,635 / $76,539).

The art project was intended as a statement on salaries in Denmark and Austria.

Museum director Lasse Andersson revealed that he burst into laughter upon first encountering the two blank canvases in 2021, opting to exhibit the works nevertheless. In his words, the situation “stirred up my curatorial staff and he also stirred me up a bit, but I also had a laugh because it was really funny.”

Commenting on the judgement, Mr. Haaning stated to DR that he did not intend to pursue the case further. However, he acknowledged that the incident had both positively impacted his work and placed him in a somewhat perplexing situation, reported BBC News.

He also noted that the museum had made “much, much more” money than it had invested due to the publicity generated by the affair.

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Written by

Jo Pugh

Jo Pugh is a journalist based in the Costa Blanca North. Originally from London, she has been involved in journalism and photography for 20 years. She has lived in Spain for 12 years, and is a dedicated and passionate writer.