What the attacks on three of the world’s most important works of art exhibited in different museums mean?
In less than 14 days three works of art of great cultural value have been attacked by environmental activists. While opinions have been mixed on the matter, there is a deeper meaning behind the attacks that has climate scientists concerned.
The first work to come under attack by activists was the work entitled ‘Massacre in Korea’ by the famed leading Cubist painter Pablo Picasso, currently on display at The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. Two activists stuck their hands to the glass cover that covers the painting made by Picasso in Spain in 1951.
Five days after the protest in Australia, two activists entered The National Gallery in London to throw a can of tomato sauce at the famous “The Sunflowers” that Vincent van Gogh painted while living in Arles, southern France, in 1888. The two activists, wearing Just Stop Oil T-shirts, approached the artwork, crossed the security fences, and threw tomato sauce at the iconic painting. They then glued themselves to the wall of the site to prevent them from being moved.
The most recent attack occurred last Sunday when activists threw mashed potatoes at “Les Meules,” by the famed Claude Monet, one of the most important impressionist artists. The activists, who were identified as belonging to the German organization Letzte Generation (Last Generation), as in the previous cases, stuck to the wall before being arrested.
These have not been the only cases of protests against works of art that have occurred this year; perhaps the case that attracted the most attention was the one that occurred last May when a man threw a cake at Leonardo DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa.”
What do attacks on works of art mean?
In all three cases of attacks on works of art, there was a much deeper background than what can be seen at first glance, which is to damage cultural heritage. Despite the controversy that the attacks raised, the activists’ reasons are in line with a responsibility to the environment and the subsistence of species in the face of the climate crisis.
The world is facing a series of unrelenting consequences caused by anthropogenic activities that are profoundly damaging the planetary balance. Starting with the recalcitrant arguments of world leaders to avoid a transition from fossil fuels to green and planet-friendly renewable energies.
The British government alone is planning to launch 100 tenders to oil companies, which was the reason Just Stop Oil protested in front of Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.” Added to this are a series of policies that do little to protect natural habitats from human destruction and the unbridled plundering of natural resources. Climate change is greatly affecting not only nature but also the most disadvantaged communities around the world, which are now facing famine due to incessant droughts and natural disasters such as floods and forest fires.
Climate scientists themselves have raised their voices and said that if we continue with this war against nature, the consequences will be disastrous for all life on the planet. In that sense, the activists seek to draw attention at all costs and in this way, to pressure governments to take legal measures to protect the environment, a responsibility of all the inhabitants of the planet.
None of the works of art were damaged during the protests, but the environment continues to be the object of destruction, a suicidal war we wage against the planet that must stop.
Story originally published in Spanish in EcoosferaPodría interesarte