Updated: Apr 21
OK, if you are reading this blog, you certainly have read about Jens Haaning and his piece titled, "Take the Money and Run." If not, look it up. Right now, go ahead. I can wait. This is important,
(While we wait for the others, I’ll fill you in. Basically, Jens was commissioned to reproduce 2 of his previous artworks. To that end, a museum gave Jens around $84,000 not as payment but as subject matter to paint, apparently. Instead of doing that, he sent them 2 large blank canvases titled ‘Take the Money and Run” for a show about our relationship to work and compensation. Jens said it is a commentary on low wages. Despite their dissatisfaction and alleged breach of contract, the museum displayed the canvases.
Alright, now that we are all caught up, what do you think about Jens art?
I was discussing this with a friend and my husband. Some of the words tossed back and forth were, idiocy, rip-off, big bucks, contract, and ass, though that last one could have been aimed at me. I for one think it is genius! And it is art. (and also likely a breach of contract.)
My husband was of the mind that it was not art because it wasn’t creative. Granted he was in bed, half asleep and it was 2am. But still, I had to disagree, vehemently. It’s conceptual art, and as conceptual art is meant to do, it birthed many good nearly unanswerable questions such as, what makes art art? Is it the object only? What does “creative” art look like? At this point, my husband closed his eyes and as he rolled over, he said, I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.
Exactly! That is my point made perfectly for me! That’s why I am convinced this is a (in my opinion, brilliant) work of art! Because it makes you dig down to the ultimate question, “What. Is. Art.” Completely unanswerable in its entirety, yet vital in a civilized society to ask the question.
Now this puts Jens in a tough position; if he gives the $ back it is no longer art but a mere prank. If he doesn’t, he has breached the contract. More questions: what is the purpose of an art museum? To support artists? Preserve history? Display “creativity”?
Just the fact that the museum displayed his blank canvases proves to me its legitimacy. But then you have to ask more questions: what makes an artwork legitimate? When does it become legit, at conception? Or when the artist has the guts to put it out into the world and say, “This is me. This is my art. and This is art.” That’s what I call showing up and NOT being invisible.