- In 2021, a Danish artist rotated in empty frames after the museum paid him 532,000 crowns for his art.
- On Monday, a Copenhagen court ordered him to return the sum to the museum, according to the Guardian.
- “I’m shocked, but at the same time it’s exactly what I imagined,” Haaning he told Danish broadcaster DR.
Jens Haaning, a Danish conceptual artist, was paid 532,000 kroner for his artwork in 2021 – about $75,000 at today’s exchange rate – just to submit two blank images titled “Take the money and run.”
The artist has now been ordered to do so by a court in Copenhagen refund the amount to the museum that commissioned the artworks, according to different The media, including the Guardian, reported about it on Monday.
“I’m shocked, but at the same time it’s exactly what I imagined,” Haaning he told Danish broadcaster DR on Monday, according to NPR’s translation.
The artist added that he does not have enough money to repay the museum: “It was good for my work, but it also puts me in an unmanageable situation where I don’t really know what to do.”
In 2021 Haaning was paid approximately $75,000 by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark. to recreate two of his famous works of art — “Average Danish annual income” and “Average Austrian annual income” with krone and euro banknotes taped to canvas, intended to represent the average annual income of a person in these countries.
Instead, he turned two empty frames – which is a museum exposed the same year.
The museum then asked the artist to return the amount paid. But Haaning refused, so the Kunsten Museum took him to court, the Guardian reported.
“Many people said that I am a naive director and it is a misuse of public and private money,” Kunsten Museum director Lasse Andersson told Insider Mia Jankowicz at the time.
At the time, Andersson said his museum was “not rich” and that Haaning’s actions deeply upset the museum’s curators.
The artist told DR in 2021 that “Take the Money and Run” was inspired by what he saw as insufficient payment — claimed that recreating the pieces as intended would require him to fork out around 3,300 euros, about $3,500 today, out of his own pocket.
“I encourage other people who have the same crappy working conditions as me to do the same. If they’re sitting in some shitty job not getting paid and they’re actually being asked to pay money to go to work, take what you can . and beat it,” he added.
The art world is no stranger to controversy surrounding high-concept pieces that satirize money.
English artist Banksy made headlines in 2018 for creating a painting that tore itself apart after it was sold at auction for $1.4 million. The artwork was again sold for $25 million in 2021.
And the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan once sold a piece of art with fresh bananas that he stuck to the wall for $120,000. When the piece was exhibited in Seoul in 2023, a student filmed himself peeling it off the wall and eat it — before he tells the local news, his act could be considered art in itself.
Haaning and the Kunsten Museum did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.
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