In the middle of ongoing climate protest movements involving attacks on prized works of art, climate activists of the Letzte Generation Austria poured black petroleum-like liquid over Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life” (1908-15) painting last Tuesday at Leopold Museum to protest against the new oil and gas wells which they consider as death sentence of humanity.
According to the footage posted by the group on Twitter, after Splashing the black liquid on the painting, the protestors attempted to glue their hand to the glass protector over the painting’s frame, but a guard was seen dragging away one of them before they could attach themselves. Last month, activists from this group also targeted Haystacks (1890), the world’s most expensive Monet, at the Museum Barberini, in Potsdam.
The activists involved in the incident can also be heard, in the footage shouting: “Stop the fossil destruction.” In the video, they were even criticizing the Museum for its association with OMV, an Austrian oil, gas, and petrochemical company.
In a statement, the activist also talked about the urgency to take measures against climate breakdown. They also suggest that lowering the speed limit to 100km/h on highways for vehicles that run on fuels, can save up to 460 million tons of Carbon dioxide every year in Austria alone, which will result in better air and noise quality.
On the day of the incident, the museum observed the death of Leopold III, an Austrian Prince. And free entry to the museum was allowed, where OMV, an oil and gas giant of Austria, was the sponsor. Despite strict checking at the entrance and not allowing anyone to carry bags inside, the protestors succeeded in sneaking the liquid into a hot water bottle by hiding it under their dress.
The Death and Life painting is Gustav Klimt’s well-known work which represents death on the left end, and the other end depicts half-naked people hugging each other. As per the reports, the police arrived after the attack and immediately wiped off the liquid from the glass protecting the painting, which was not damaged.
These attacks are a part of the rising climate change movement across Europe, where the protestors stage demonstration at museums, especially targeting precious artworks. These protesters consider oil and gas drilling as equal to giving the death sentence to the society.
In a statement, Hans-Peter Wipplinger, the director of the Leopold Museum, said that the climate activist’s concern about the urgency to take some action is justified. However, the attacks on artworks are not the right direction to go about it.