By: Michaela Thimot
On Friday, Oct. 14, at London’s National Gallery, protestors from climate change activist group Just Stop Oil threw several cans of Heinz tomato soup onto Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflower painting. The following day, the two protestors attended a court hearing along with a third member from the group who previously covered a Scotland Yard sign in yellow paint. The glass encasing van Gogh’s painting protected it from harm, while the activists accomplished their goal of gaining the public’s attention.
Members from the group shared that their ultimate goal is to, “ensure that the government commits to ending all new licenses and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.” Authorities have repeatedly arrested representatives of Just Stop Oil for crimes including gluing themselves to paintings and blocking public roads. Members have also glued themselves to various other paintings around Manchester, London, and Glasgow; some even spray painted No New Oil under Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper.
A week after the Sunflower painting incident, a German climate change activist group, Letze Generation, threw cans of mashed potatoes on a Claude Monet painting hanging in the Barberini Museum in Potsdam in an effort to draw public attention towards the imposing threats of climate change. The 1890 painting was also protected by a glass case surrounding it, so the painting itself remains unharmed.
After dousing the 110 million dollar painting in mashed potatoes, the two members of Letzte Generation glued their hands to the wall as one of them shared, “We are in a climate catastrophe, and all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting. I’m afraid because the science tells us that we won’t be able to feed our families in 2050…This painting is not going to be worth anything if we have to fight over food.”
Several additional groups have committed similar crimes in the past few months, each with the intention of sharing the urgency of the government halting destructive fossil fuel licensing and production with news channels and media outlets. While none of the recent art attacks have caused permanent damage to the paintings, they are expected to continue in order to put pressure on governments to listen to the dangers that will arise if they continue with these new laws.
(Sources: Forbes, NY Times, The Guardian)