A museum says they gave an artist $84,000 in cash to use in artwork. He delivered blank canvases and titled them “Take the Money and Run.”
A Danish artist delivered two blank canvases titled “Take the Money and Run” after a Denmark museum lent him $84,000 to incorporate in his commissioned artwork.
Jens Haaning was to recreate two of his 2010 artworks for the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, which both depicted the average income of Austria and Denmark residents.
“The exhibition is called ‘Work it Out’ and features works of art by many different contemporary artists,” the museum director said, adding that “Jens is known for his conceptual and activistic art with a humouristic touch” and that “he hasn’t broken any contract yet as the initial contract says we will have the money back on 16 January 2022.”
However, he said that “it was a bit of a wake-up call” as everyone at the museum wondered where the money had gone once they opened the boxes delivered by the artist.
A press release for the art reads: “[The pieces] show how salaries 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 work to ‘Take the Money and Run’ Haaning questions artists’ rights and their working conditions in order to establish more equitable norms within the art industry.”
One thing it’s not, he says, is a theft. “It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work,” he said.
“The work is that I have taken their money,” Haaning stated.
The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg isn’t satisfied with that explanation, but that hasn’t stopped it from displaying the two canvases as part of its exhibition
The museum is deciding whether to report Haaning to the police if he doesn’t return the cash by the end of January, when the exhibition closes.
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