Environmental protesters dumped tomato soup on Vincent Van Gogh ‘s famous painting “Sunflowers” at London’s National Gallery on Friday, demanding the British government halt new oil and gas extraction projects.
Shortly after 11 a.m. local time, two activists from the civil disobedience group ” Just Stop Oil ” threw two cans of Heinz-brand soup onto the glass-protected canvas and part of its gilt frame, videos posted online show. social networks.
Painted in 1888 by the Dutch impressionist master, the painting is valued at $84.2 million.
With this action, “Just Stop Oil” sought to demand that the British executive stop all new hydrocarbon exploitation projects in the country, the environmental organization said in a statement shortly after.
After throwing the thick substance, the two activists knelt in front of the work and glued themselves to the wall of the art gallery.
Museum security arrived shortly afterward and ushered visitors out of room 43 where the work is on display.
Scotland Yard announced that its “officers rushed to the scene at the National Gallery this morning after two Just Stop Oil protesters threw a substance on a painting and then hit a wall.”
“Both were arrested for criminal damage and aggravated trespassing,” police said on Twitter.
“Not even a can of soup”
Increasingly questioned for her political, economic and environmental decisions, the new British Conservative Prime Minister, Liz Truss, appointed on September 6 as successor to the controversial Boris Johnson, announced two days later the lifting of a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the United Kingdom.
In addition to allowing this controversial method of extracting fossil fuels, which was until now prohibited in the country, Truss also announced an increase in licenses for the extraction of oil and gas in the North Sea, among his measures to fight the energy crisis .
“Sunflowers” is the second most famous work by Van Gogh attacked by “Just Stop Oil”, two of whose activists hit the 1889 painting “Peach Trees in Bloom” at the Courtauld Gallery in London at the end of June.
“What is worth more, art or life?”, “Do you care more about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?” , launched one of the protesters on Friday.
In video footage of he hears someone yell “oh my God” as soup drips down the frame onto the floor.
This latest action by the group takes place after two weeks of protests throughout the British capital.
“The cost of living crisis comes from fossil fuels, daily life has become unaffordable for millions of families who are cold and hungry, they can’t even afford a can of soup,” said Phoebe Plummer, an activist from 21 years cited in a group statement.
“At the same time,” “people are dying” from “fires and droughts caused by climate change,” he argued, and “we can’t afford new oil and gas projects.”