Danish artist ordered to repay museum after handing over empty paintings: NPR

A woman stands in front of a blank canvas hanging in the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, Denmark, in 2021. Danish artist Jens Hanning sent the museum blank canvases under the title Take the money and run away.

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A woman stands in front of a blank canvas hanging in the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, Denmark, in 2021. Danish artist Jens Hanning sent the museum blank canvases under the title Take the money and run away.

Henning Bäger/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Image

In the fall of 2021, a Danish museum opened two large boxes to inspect two works that had been commissioned by the artist Jens Hanning.

But when museum staff removed the paintings, the new work the artist informed the museum had a title Take the money and run away — The plates were completely empty.

The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg had given Hanning a loan of 532,549 Dutch kroner, equivalent to about $76,400. The funds were to be used to recreate two earlier works by Hanning that depicted – with actual cold money mounted on the canvas in the frame – the average annual income of a Dane and an Austrian, and the large gap between them, reflecting differences in wages. Within the European Union.

Now, a court in Copenhagen has ordered Hanning to repay most of the money — about $70,600 — plus the equivalent of an additional $110,000 in legal fees.

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“I’m shocked, but at the same time this is exactly what I imagined.” Hanning told Danish public broadcaster DR on monday.

“We’re not a rich museum,” said Lacy Anderson, the museum’s director. Tell Watchman In 2021He explained that the money came from the reserves allocated for the maintenance of the building. “We have to think carefully about how we spend our money, and not spend more than we can afford.”

The court ruling deducted approximately $5,700 from the full loan amount to serve as Hanning’s artist fees and viewing fees, with the museum nonetheless displaying the blank canvases in the “Work It Out” show.

The curators of the Konstin Museum seem to fully understand Hanning’s meaning.

Hanning’s new work Take the money and run away It is also an acknowledgment that works of art, despite intentions to the contrary, are part of a capitalist system that values ​​work based on some arbitrary conditions.“, says the museum in its exhibition guide. “Even money lost in work has a monetary value when it is called art, thus showing how the value of money is an abstract quantity.”

Hanning now appears to be in a bit of a bind, as he says he doesn’t have the money to pay the museum.

“It’s been good for my business, but it also puts me in an uncontrollable situation where I don’t really know what to do,” the artist told DR.

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