Environment activists smeared red paint and glued their hands to the protective glass on a Claude Monet painting at Stockholm’s National Museum on Wednesday, June 14.
The two women, aged 25 and 30, were arrested after the attempted vandalism. The organisation Återställ Våtmarker, meaning “Restore the Wetlands” claimed responsibility for the stunt.
In a video, the two women can be heard chanting: “The climate situation is urgent” and “our health is threatened”. Spokesperson of Återställ Våtmarker, Helen Wahlgren, explained in an interview with AFP that this was in protest of the Swedish government allegedly not respecting its international climate commitments.
Wahlgren also pointed out that a climate catastrophe is “also a health crisis” with “millions of people already dying from the climate disaster”.
Återställ Våtmarker said “gorgeous gardens like those in Monet’s painting will soon be a distant memory”.
Monet’s “The Artist’s Garden at Giverny” (1900) is currently being examined by the museum’s conservation team to see if it has been damaged.
The museum said it was “naturally” opposed to actions that risk damaging works of art. The acting Chief Curator, Per Hedstrom, said cultural heritage has great symbolic value, and claimed it was “unacceptable” to attack it regardless of the purpose.
Climate-Induced Vandalism of Masterpieces:
Monet is not the first great painter to have his work vandalised by climate change activists. Last year, major paintings by the likes of Vincent van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer and Gustav Klimt caught the wrath of climate change activists.
Cans of tomato were splattered over Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”. At another Dutch museum, a man glued his head to Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” In Austria, protestors threw red and brown slime – meant to represent blood and oil – at Klimt’s “Death and Life”.
Never before have so many purported fine art masterpieces been vandalised in such a short amount of time. It raises the question of whether or not the destruction of art is an effective vehicle for protest.
All of the paintings involved were undamaged, as reported by the museums that house them.