A pair of environmentalists vandalized Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting in London’s national gallery on Friday.
The two protesters are from the group “Just Stop Oil” popularly known for climate protests. They hurled two cans of tomato soup on the painting in one of their latest series of attempts to speak out against oil by vandalizing famous artworks.
The group that became famous advocating for halting new oil and gas projects by the British government had its two protesters glued to the gallery wall of the painting of the Dutch artist’s most iconic works. The Metropolitan Police of London said they arrested the two on suspicion of criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
Group that vandalized Gogh’s painting known for Climate change Advocacy
People spotted the duo putting on Just Stop Oil T-Shirts. The group became well-known for engaging in publicity stunts to bring the public’s attention to climate change.
Not long after the footage went viral, Just Stop Oil said in a statement, “Human creativity and brilliance is on show in this gallery, yet our heritage is being destroyed by our government’s failure to act on the climate and cost of living crisis.”
“What use is art when we face the collapse of civil society?” the group continued. “The art establishment, artists and the art-loving public need to step up into Civil Resistance if they want to live in a world where humans are around to appreciate art.”
Artworks are a common target of climate activists’ attention. The recent attempt is therefore not Just Stop Oil’s first public assault on his paintings. In June, a pair of activists from the association glued themselves to the frame of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. They also did so with John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” in the National Gallery. All these attempts at the paintings are part of a series of protests on the British government’s climate policies.
Van Gogh’s painting in London National Gallery “unharmed”
As it was enclosed in glass, there was very little destruction. According to the gallery “there is some minor damage to the frame but the painting is unharmed.” Yet they were able to clean and return it to its place on Friday afternoon.
The Sunflowers were the subject of two series of paintings by van Gogh. Pieces of art from the floral set sell for tens of millions of dollars.
The group wrote saying, “A piece of art receives this protection and state concern. Whilst people’s in Ethiopia, Somalia, India, Pakistan, the USA, Australia (to name a few) who are suffering from climate change NOW get ignored and left.”
“What’s more important? This painting? Or a future”?! Just Stop Oil group questioned in anguish.
Later that day, another group of protesters from the same group gathered at police headquarters and sprayed yellow paint over the rotating “New Scotland Yard” sign in front of it. Several also glued themselves to the road, blocking traffic with Police confirming the arrest of 24 people.
During two weeks of protests over the British government’s policies on oil and gas, the activists also blocked bridges and intersections across London.