Artist Given $84K for Paintings Sends Blank Canvases, Titles Them 'Take the Money and Run'

blank canvas
blank canvas

HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty

When the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art of Denmark gave artist Jens Haaning $84,000 for two paintings to feature in their upcoming exhibition, the last thing they expected was to get two blank canvases in return.

According to CNN, the museum asked Haaning to recreate two of his previous works that used framed cash to represent the average salaries of Austrians and Danes in their respective currencies. The artworks were to be featured in an exhibition about the future of labor.

But when Kunsten received the pieces, the museum was surprised that Haaning did not use the cash he was given for the paintings. In fact, he hadn't used anything at all and instead gave the museum two blank canvases.

"I have chosen to make a new work for the exhibition, instead of showing the two 14- and 11-year-old works respectively," Haaning told the museum in an email, according to CNN.

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blank canvas
blank canvas

HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty

"The work is based on/responds to both your exhibition concept and the works that we had originally planned to show," he wrote.

Haaning titled his new piece "Take the Money and Run."

Lasse Andersson, the museum's director, told CBS News he laughed when he saw the black canvases.

"The staff was very surprised when they opened the crates. I was abroad when the crates were opened, but suddenly received a lot of mails," Andersson recalled.

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"Jens is known for his conceptual and activistic art with a humoristic touch. And he gave us that – but also a bit of a wake up call as everyone now wonders where did the money go," he added.

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Haaning signed a contract to deliver the artwork and return the $84,000, NPR reported. He will reportedly have to give back the money sometime in mid-January after the exhibition ends.

The museum, though, isn't entirely unhappy with what they received.

"It wasn't what we had agreed on in the contract," Andersson said, "but we got new and interesting art."