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Artist Makes Off with $84,000 (as

Artists Makes Off with $84,000 (as Art), Swiss Museum Leader Battles Critics, and More: Morning Links for September 28, 2021

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The Headlines

GREAT ARTISTS STEAL. As far as artist’s statements go, it is hard to beat Jens Haaning’s. “The work of art is that I took their money,” Haaning recently told the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, after keeping 534,000 kroner (about $83,900) that a museum loaned him so that he could recreate a work, Bloomberg reports. The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Denmark thought it was getting a piece that displays the yearly incomes of a Dane and an Austrian. Instead, it received a box with empty glass frames. The work’s title: Take the Money and Run. The provocation is a bit reminiscent of a 2006 Merlin Carpenter piece that saw the ICA Philadelphia give him $4,000 to produce a work, and Carpenter instead going on a shopping spree . (In that case, though, he at least had the decency to exhibit the receipts and shopping bags he got.) The museum may go to the authorities if Haaning does not come up with the money by the end of the show’s run in January.

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Artist Makes Off with $84,000 (as

A MUSEUM MELEE. Some 100 scholars in Geneva have petitioned the Swiss city’s mayor, saying that Marc-Olivier Wahler should not continue to lead its Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, the Art Newspaper reports. Among their allegations is that Wahler has overspent on exhibitions and that he wants to replace a works-on-paper space with a cafe. The letter also condemns “historical nonsense liable to mislead the public.” The director said the budget accusations have been dispelled by audits and that he intends to give the works-on-paper venue more space, elsewhere in the museum. Previously the leader of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, he told TAN that he has a “forward-looking museum model” and that his critics “want the museum to remain the domain of an elite and are against breaking down hierarchies.” His two-year probationary period concludes next month, and the paper reports that Geneva’s culture chief has backed him in the press.

The Digest

After being detained for three months, the activist-artist Hamlet Lavastida said that he had been released by Cuban authorities and exiled from the country, along with his girlfriend, the writer and activist Katherine Bisquet. Lavastida is part of the 27N movement, which has called for greater freedom in the country. [ARTnews]

A new show at the Prado in Madrid shines a spotlight on its copy of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. New research by the museum suggests it may have been painted by an unidentified assistant who made a copy of the Salvator Mundi. [The Art Newspaper]

Speaking of celebrating and studying grand old artworks: A Pietà that Michelangelo worked on late in life, but ended up abandoning, is on view at the Opera del Duomo Museum in Florence after extensive conservation work. The Old Master had initially intended the work for his tomb. [The New York Times]

Nolan Bushnell may not be a household name, but businesses he created are. He was a co-founder of the Atari gaming company and the man behind the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain. Now Bushnell is readying an NFT that involved augmented reality. “It’s beyond what anyone else has done, and it satisfied my requirement that it be something that blows your socks off,” he said. [Bloomberg]

A 1965 guitar that Johnny Ramone played for two decades—on every single Ramones album—sold at RR Auction in Boston for more than $900,000, and a wine bottle believed to have been aboard the HMS Bounty in 1789, when its famous mutiny occurred, was sold for £2,200 by Sworders of Stansted, of Essex, England. [The Associated Press and BBC News]

It’s another big day for artist interviews: Alison Saar with the Los Angeles TimesSean Scully with BBC NewsNeo Rauch with the New Yorker (buckle up for this one: you are going for a ride in his Porsche ), and Tomashi Jackson with the Harvard Gazette.

The Kicker

‘WE HAD A LONG YEAR,’ the writer and curator Hilton Als tells Interview magazine, in a conversation about “Get Lifted!”—a group show he has organized at Karma gallery in New York. “We had a year to think about things, and as I started to gather objects and feelings, I noticed that I kept coming back to this idea of freedom over and over again,” he continues. “The images that I chose had an ecstasy about them—they couldn’t be contained in the frame of a piece.” Among the artists in the show, which runs through October 2, are Alice ColtranePeter Hujar, and Senga Nengundi. Uniting the disparate works “is that feeling of catharsis,” Als said. [Interview]

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