Two young people have entered the Barberini Museum in the German city of Potsdam this Sunday, they have gone towards the painting ‘Les Meules’, by the French impressionist painter Claude Monet, and have thrown a portion of mashed potatoes on it. Then, they have put glue on their hands and have placed their palms against the wall. The couple, who belong to the German environmental organization Letzte Generation (Last Generation), have replicated the action carried out by two British activists two weeks ago at the National Gallery in London, when they threw tomato soup at the painting Sunflowers, by Dutchman Vincent Van Gogh, to protest against the inaction of governments to curb climate change.
Climate activists throw tomato soup at Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ at the National Gallery in London
Like the British couple who ignited public opinion this month, German activists have bypassed security and, after throwing food on the painting, have demanded: “Do we need mashed potatoes in a painting so that you will listen?” “People starve, freeze, die. We are in a climatic catastrophe and the only thing that worries you is a little tomato soup on a painting, ”they have lamented. “Do you know what worries me?” one of the activists asked rhetorically: “I am afraid that scientists tell us that we will not be able to feed our families in 2050. This painting will be worth nothing when we have to fight to feed us When are you going to listen and stop your business?
On its Twitter account, the Museum has confirmed that the painting was glazed and that after verification by the institution’s conservation services it has been confirmed that it has not suffered any type of damage. “The work will be exhibited again in the exhibition halls on Wednesday, October 26. It dates from 1890 and is part of the Hasso Plattner Collection”, the foundation to which the work belongs, the museum has clarified.
This German climate organization was founded in the wake of climate change protests that in early 2022 blocked major highways in Frankfurt, according to its website. “We are the last generation that can prevent the collapse of society,” they announce in their declaration of intent, in which they explain that they receive most of their funding and advice from the international organization Climate Emergency Fund.
Just over a week ago, on October 14, two activists from the climate organization Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup on Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ at the National Gallery in London. Dressed in a T-shirt with the slogan against oil extraction, two young men approached the painting, opened a can and threw the contents at it. Then they stuck their hands to the wall of the room, just as the two German activists have done today.
“What has more value? Art or life? Is it worth more than food or justice?” asks one of the young women. “What worries you more, the protection of a painting or that of our planet and people? The crisis due to the increase in the cost of living is part of the energy crisis. Gasoline is unaffordable for millions of families who are hungry and cold and who cannot afford or heat a can of soup,” the British couple said at the time.
The same organization had carried out similar acts in different museums and galleries in the United Kingdom. Last June, two activists also stuck their hands to the frame of a 19th-century work by Horatio McCulloch in Glasgow. The next day, two other members of Just Stop Oil did the same with a Van Gogh painting at the Courtauld Gallery in London.