Climate activists in Austria defaced a famous painting at a Vienna museum on Tuesday, the latest in a series of such protests against priceless works of art in a call to action against fossil fuels.
Members of an activist group called Last Generation posted photos and videos online Tuesday showing a protester pouring “black, oily liquid” on Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life” painting in the Leopold Museum before security intervened. Another activist can be seen trying to stick to the protective barrier in front of the painting.
“Further oil and gas drilling is a death sentence for humanity,” Last Generation tweeted after the hack.
The group is demanding laws that reduce speed limits on highways to 100 km/h (approximately 62 mph), which they claim save 460 million tons of CO2 per year in Austria and reduce noise and air pollution.
Última Generación held the protest on a day when the public had free access to the museum for Saint Leopoldo’s Day, in an event sponsored by OMV, a oil and gas company.
“The people who continue to search and drill for new oil and gas have blood on their hands, and no amount of patronage will wash away that blood,” the activist group said. “There can be no clean art with dirty money involved!”
Climate activists from various groups have attempted in recent months to deface paintings and attach themselves to other works of art in museums across Europe. On November 11, radical environmentalists in Norway they tried and failed to stick themselves to Edvard Munch’s 1889 painting “The Scream” in a museum in Oslo. Last month, two activists were arrested in London, England, after throwing cans of tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s painting “Sunflowers.”
Museum officials told reporters at a news conference that the museum had increased security after these recent attacks and that Klimt’s 1915 painting “Death and Life” was not damaged by Tuesday’s protest.
“Fortunately, the artwork was not damaged. However, we are surprised that the Leopold Museum was in the spotlight here,” museum director Hans-Peter Wipplinger told a news conference, according to Reuters.
While Wipplinger said the museum was sympathetic to the activists’ cause, he condemned the protest and said Last Generation would be billed for police deployment and cleanup, estimating the cost at at least five euro figures.
It is not clear if the activists were arrested.