Jens Haaning, A Danish Artist: Must Refund $1 Million After Sending the Blank Paintings

A Danish artist forced to pay the Museum of Art in Aalborg 492,549 Danish kroner, or about $1 million. Jens Haaning, an artist, submitted two blank canvases with the title “Take the Money and Run” two years ago for an exhibition about working conditions. The debate surrounding this unique piece of art led to recent legal action against the artist.

Court ruling to Jens Haaning

A week ago, the Danish court ruled that Jens Haaning breached his Museum of Art contract. As a result, he was ordered to pay the museum. Haaning’s attorney, Peter Schnning, announced on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, that the contemporary artist is appealing the verdict, but he did not elaborate.

Strange Proposal and Creative Work Commissioned

In 2021, the Museum of Art commissioned Jens Haaning to reprint two of his banknote-on-canvas pieces. Haaning created these. These artworks critiqued Danish and Austrian annual wages. In an unusual move, Haaning submitted two paintings without any imagery to the “Work It Out.” show. The artist justified this unusual move by saying the blank canvases reflect his current job and the money received is savings. The artist took a risk here.

Restitution and Lawsuits to Jens Haaning

The museum gave Jens Haaning 25,000 kroner (approximately $54,900) for his labor on the artwork in addition to providing bills in euros and kroner. This payment recognized the artist’s effort in creating the painting.

After the exhibition, Haaning refused to return the money, prompting the institution to sue. The artist denied wrongdoing and said he had made a painting in response.

Financial Readjustments and Judgement

On September 18, 2023, the District Court of Copenhagen issued a ruling that was favorable to the museum and authorized Jens Haaning to retain 40,000 kroner (about $87,900) of the initial money. The museum emerged victorious from this trial. This sum paid to the artist for the exhibition that opened on September 24, 2021 and closed on January 16, 2022. And then, it followed by an exhibition of blank canvases.

The court made notice of the fact that the contract between the museum. Haning made it abundantly clear that the funds would made available for the temporary show and returned after its conclusion.

Haaning continues to argue in court that he did not conduct any crimes. It simply an artist, despite the fact that the legal struggle against him is still ongoing. The recent upheaval has brought up some intriguing issues concerning artistic expression, contractual obligations, and the monetary worth of unconventional work.


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