Denmark: Artist has to pay back 66,000 euros because of blank pictures

“Arts Museum” Aalborg
Fraud or art? Danish artist has to pay back 66,000 euros because of blank canvases

As you can see, you don’t see anything: Actually, a work by the artist Jens Haaning on the subject of money was supposed to be on display here, but he changed his concept at short notice

© Henning Bagger / Picture Alliance

A court in Copenhagen had to decide whether two works by an artist were art or a kind of fraudulent breach of contract. Now the verdict came down.

Art without content: Because he put the money intended for creating a work of art with real banknotes into his own pocket and only delivered empty picture frames, a Danish artist now has to pay back 66,000 euros to a museum. A court in Copenhagen on Monday ordered Jens Haaning to reimburse the Aalborg Art Museum in the amount of 492,549 crowns (around 66,000 euros).

Haaning was supposed to recreate one of his earlier works, for which he pasted the annual wages in Denmark and Austria in krone and euro banknotes onto two canvases. However, when museum staff opened the shipping containers, they discovered that the frames were empty. At the same time, Haaning renamed his work “Take the money and disappear”.

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At first he laughed out loud when he saw the two blank canvases and the title, museum director Lasse Andersson told the AFP news agency. Nevertheless, he decided at the time to show the works without content. Ultimately, they showed a “humoristic approach” and were “a reflection” on “how we value work.”

At the same time, however, Andersson stated that the museum would sue Haaning if he did not pay back the money. However, the artist continues to refuse the repayment. He told broadcaster TV2 Nord on Monday that the museum had earned “much, much more” money through PR with the empty pictures than it had invested.

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Haaning also demanded compensation from the museum because he is of the opinion that his works were ultimately disseminated by the museum in the media and thus violated copyright law. In this context, he demanded compensation of DKK 550,000 (approximately 73,800 euros), but this was rejected by the court.

With reference to the provisional nature of the judgment, the museum no longer wants to comment on the case for the time being: “There is a four-week appeal period, and as long as the case can still be appealed, we have no further comments,” said museum director Andersson in an interview with TV2 North.

Sources: TV2 North (1), TV2 North (2)AFP


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