A museum says it gave an artist $ 84,000 in cash to use in works of art. He delivered blank canvases and titled them “Take the Money and Run”.


A Danish artist received $ 84,000 from a museum to use in a work of art. When he delivered the part he was supposed to do, it wasn’t as promised. Instead, the artist, Jens Haaning, donated two blank canvases to the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark, and said they were titled “Take the Money and Run.”

Haaning was invited to recreate two of his previous works: “Danish Average Annual Income” from 2010 and “Austrian Average Annual Income”, first exhibited in 2007. Both used real money to show the works. average incomes of the two countries, according to a press release from the artist.

In addition to compensation for work, Haaning also received banknotes to use in work, museum director Lasse Andersson told CBS News via email. Their contract even stated that the museum would give Haaning an additional $ 6,000 to update the work, if necessary, Andersson said. At the time the works were initially exhibited, the Danish piece showed an average income of 328,000 crowns, or approximately $ 37,800, while the average Austrian salary illustrated was around € 25,000, or $ 29,000.

For the “Work it Out” exhibition at the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Haaning was supposed to fill frames with silver. But they were empty.

Jens haaning

“We also have a contract whereby the money of 84,000 US dollars to be displayed in the work is not Jens’ money and that it must be repaid when the exhibition closes on January 16, 2022”, he said. said Andersson.

“The exhibition is called ‘Work it Out’ and features works of art by many different contemporary artists,” he said, adding that the It exhibition will run from September 24 to January 16, 2022.

Andersson said that when they spoke to the artist about making the piece earlier this year, he accepted the contract and “indicated a fairly easy job.”

But when it came time for Haaning to deliver, he did the unexpected.

“The curator received an email in which Jens Haaning wrote that he had created a new piece of art and changed the title of the work to ‘Take the Money and Run’,” Andersson said. “Subsequently, we found that the money had not been invested in the work.

Indeed, the frames intended to be filled with cash were empty.

“The staff were very surprised when they opened the checkouts. I was overseas when the checkouts opened, but suddenly I got a lot of mail,” Andersson said.

When he finally saw “Take the Money and Run” Andersson said he really laughed. “Jens is known for his conceptual and activist art with a touch of humor. And he gave it to us – but also kind of like a wake-up call because everyone knows the money has gone wonderfully,” he said. -he declares.

According to Haaning’s press release, “the idea behind was to show how wages can be used to measure the value of work and to show national differences within the European Union. But by changing the title of the book in “Take the Money and Run” Haaning “questions the rights of artists and their working conditions in order to establish more equitable standards within the art industry”.

“Everyone would like to have more money, and in our society the labor industries are valued differently,” Haaning said in a statement. “The work of art is essentially about the working conditions of artists. It is an observation which says that we also have the responsibility to question the structures of which we are part. And if these structures are completely unreasonable, we must break with them. your marriage, your job – it can be any kind of societal structure. ”

Andersson said that while it wasn’t what they agreed to in the contract, the museum got some new and interesting art. “Regarding the $ 84,000 amount, he hasn’t broken any contracts yet, as the original contract says we will get the money back on January 16, 2022.”

The museum director said they would wait and see what Haaning does, but if the money is not returned by January 16, “of course we will take the necessary steps to ensure that Jens Haaning lives up to his contract.”

He said they were in contact with Haaning, whom he described as a “respected and well-known artist in Denmark”. But they still have to come to an agreement.


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