Artist must return money he used as ‘art’

Henry

On Monday, a court in Denmark ordered an artist to return almost €70,000 (about R1.4 million) to a museum that he was given to use in works of art. He handed over blank canvases to the museum with the title “Take the money and run”.

Jens Haaning was commissioned by the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg to create two artworks in which the cash – Danish kroner and euros – is used to depict the annual salary in Denmark and Austria.

The Copenhagen court on Monday ordered the 58-year-old artist to repay 492,549 kroner, equivalent to the amount the museum handed him minus the artist’s fee and costs to stretch the canvases.

Museum director Lasse Andersson told AFP earlier that he laughed out loud when he saw the two blank canvases in 2021, and decided to exhibit the work anyway. According to him, it had a “humorous approach” and was a “sign of how we value work”.

However, he added that the museum would take Haaning to court if he did not pay back the money, which he then indeed refused to do.

Haaning said in an interview with TV2 Nord television on Monday that the museum made “much, much more money” than it invested, thanks to the publicity surrounding the incident.