Gustav Klimt’s painting ‘Tod und Leben’ is seen after Last Generation Austria (Letzte Generation Oesterreich) activists spilled oil on it at the Leopold museum in Vienna, Austria, on November 15, 2022.
Letzte Generation Oesterreich | via Reuters
Climate activists in Austria attacked a famous painting by artist Gustav Klimt on Tuesday with a black, oily liquid and then one stuck to the glass protecting the frame of the painting.
Members of the Last Generation Austria group tweeted that they had targeted the 1915 painting “Death and Life” in the Leopold Museum in Vienna to protest their government’s use of fossil fuels.
After spilling the liquid on the painting, which was not damaged, one activist was pushed by a museum guard while another stuck his hand to the glass on the painting’s frame.
The group defended the protest, saying in a tweet that they were protesting “oil and gas exploration,” which they called “a death sentence for society.”
In a video of the incident, which the group posted online, one of the activists can be heard shouting that “we have known about the problem for 50 years; we must finally act, otherwise the planet will break apart.”
“Stop the destruction of fossil fuels. We are running towards climate hell,” she added.
After the attack, police arrived at the museum and the black liquid was quickly wiped off the glass protecting the painting, the Austrian Press Agency reported.
Despite thorough checks at the museum entrance, the activists managed to sneak in the liquid by hiding it in a hot water bottle under their clothes, the agency reported.
The museum’s restoration team later said that while the painting itself was undamaged, the damage to the glass and safety frame, as well as the wall and floor, was “obvious and significant,” the museum reported. OFF.
Hans-Peter Wipplinger, director of the Leopold Museum, told APA that the concerns of climate activists were justified, “but attacking works of art is definitely the wrong way to implement the goal of preventing the predicted climate breakdown.”
He called on the group to find other ways to make their concerns known.
Austria’s culture minister also expressed sympathy for the “concerns and also the despair” of the activists, but criticized their manner of protest.
“I don’t think actions like these are purposeful, because it raises the question of whether they don’t lead to greater misunderstanding than to greater awareness of the climate catastrophe,” said Andrea Mayer.
“From my point of view, accepting the risk of irreparable damage to works of art is the wrong way to go,” the minister added. “Art and culture are allies in the fight against climate catastrophe, not adversaries.”
Klimt’s work is an Art Nouveau oil on canvas painting depicting death on the left side and a group of partially nude people embracing each other on the right side. It is one of the latest pieces of art that climate activists are aiming at to draw attention to global warming.
Different activist groups have staged numerous demonstrations in recent months, including blocking streets and throwing mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in Germany.
British group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London last month.
Just Stop Oil activists also stuck to the frame of an early print of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, and John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” at the National Gallery.
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