Artist paid R1.4m for commissioned artwork goes 'blank'

Artist paid R1.4m for commissioned artwork goes 'blank'

It was his interpretation of what he was commissioned to produce for the museum. 

A woman holding blank canvas
A woman holding blank canvas/Pexels/@Angela Roma

We've always appreciated art for its ability to transport people to different places. 

Whether or not that is a real place, a message or a visualisation, it has all been a matter of interpretation. 

And for the most part, that can be appreciated. If, however, the art itself becomes questionable in its entire essence, what happens then?

One Danish artist, Jens Haaning, decided to push the limits of his art when he delivered blank canvases to the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, Denmark. 

The artist was commissioned to produce artwork for the museum "to recreate two of his earlier artworks for which he had used a bunch of banknotes to represent the average income in Denmark and Austria." (Oddity Central

It's only natural for us to assume that when it comes to artist's being commissioned for specific pieces, that they follow through. After all, it is a job. 

But Haaning seemed to have other things on his mind. 

After agreeing to the job and being paid about 532,000 kroner ($76,000/R1.4-million) to recreate the art pieces, including a fee of 40,000 kroner, he pulled a fast one on them. 

"When the museum staff unpacked the two artworks from Haaning, they found two blank canvases titled ‘Take the Money and Run’.

“The work is that I have taken their money,” Mr Haaning told “It’s not theft. It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work.” (Oddity Central)


It seems the artist was quite literal with his art this time. The museum proceeded to put his art on display but asked the artist to return the money they paid him for the commissioned artwork. 

Haaning refused to pay the money back and so, the museum sought out legal action. 

"Now, after a long legal battle, a Copenhagen court has ordered Jens Haaning to refund the museum 492,549 kroner, which represents the sum the museum had given him minus the artist’s fee. He now has 14 days to comply, but he can also appeal the ruling." (Oddity Central)

Interestingly enough, Haaning admits that as much as this put him in an 'unmanageable situation', he felt the museum made a lot of money due to the publicity that was created surrounding the blank canvases. 

Image Courtesy of Pexels

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