Artist tries “Emperor’s New Clothes” trick in Danish art gallery

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The Danish word for art is ‘kunst’. That may have always been a clue.

Because there isn’t much else on the wall where Jens Haaning’s latest work, a blank canvas, has hung at Kunsten, an art gallery in Aalborg, since last Friday.

Her work is part of ‘Work it out’, an exhibition showcasing the work of 22 artists that questions the role of the individual in the modern labor market.

The headline says it all: ‘Take the money and run’. The artist has borrowed 550,000 crowns from the gallery, and they are not sure he will return it.

Responsible for recreating two of his old works of art
Haaning borrowed the money from the galley to be able to create two of his works: physical representations of an average Danish annual salary in 2010, and his Austrian counterpart three years earlier.

The gallery expected the works to consist of a bundle of banknotes: 328,000 crowns and 25,000 euros to be exact.

Instead, opening day revealed a blank canvas and photo frame with the text “grab the money and run”.

Some marks on the web suggest that banknotes could have been affixed, but not anymore.

The gallery becomes nervous following the artist’s request for payment
Kunsten director Lasse Andersson believes the 56-year-old artist broke his promise to recreate his previous works.

“It’s holistic work that points to exposure, but I miss the money he borrowed,” he told Berlingske. “It is of course a problem if he does not intend to refund the money.”

As part of the deal, the museum expected the 550,000 crowns to be returned by Jan. 14 – two days before the exhibit ends – but they have since indicated they will request the money earlier.

Especially since Haaning clearly has other ideas. “Jens now says it’s payment for a job he did,” Andersson told Jyllands-Posten.


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