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Did a Danish Artist Steal Money or Make Art?

A woman looks at an art installation titled "Take the Money and Run" by Danish artist Jens Haaning in Aalborg, Denmark September 28, 2021. (Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix via REUTERS)
Did a Danish Artist Steal Money or Make Art?
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A museum in Denmark gave an artist over $80,000 (Danish kroner) to create a piece of art for an exhibition about work and money.

The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art was surprised when Jens Haaning sent two empty canvases. He said it was art.

He called the work “Take the Money and Run.”

The museum paid Haaning about $3,900 to make the art. It was supposed to be created from thousands of dollars of bank notes attached to the canvases. The museum also gave him the bank notes.

The work was supposed to be similar to his past works that used the bank notes to show the average yearly wage in Denmark and Austria.

Haaning told a Danish radio broadcaster: “The artwork is that I have taken the money.”

He did not say where it was, or if he planned to give it back.

Haaning is known to create art that makes people think.

He said the art, or lack of art, depending on how you view it, shows his current work status.

“I encourage others, who have just as miserable working conditions as I, to do the same,” Haaning said. “If they are being asked to give money to go to work, then take the money and run.”

The Kunsten Museum says the artist broke an agreement that he would make a piece of art. However, it has not reported Haaning to the police. The exhibition closes in January. If he returns the money at that point, it may not.

Haaning says he did not commit a crime, and what he gave the museum is art.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by The Associated Press. Susan Shand was the editor.

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Words in This Story

exhibition – n. an event at which objects (such as works of art) are put out in a public space for people to look at : a public show of something

canvas – n. a specially prepared piece of cloth on which a picture can be painted by an artist

encourage – v. to tell or advise (someone) to do something

miserable – adj. very poor in condition or quality

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