Another priceless work of art, Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” has served as a palette for European climate activists’ admonishments.
A video on Twitter showed one activist attempting to glue his head to the glass-protected painting housed at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague in the Netherlands. Another man appeared to pour a can of a red substance over the other.
“How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless being apparently destroyed before your eyes? Do you feel outrage? Good. That is the feeling when you see the planet being destroyed before our very eyes,” said the substance-pouring activist who wore a white T-shirt bearing the words “Just Stop Oil.”
He told onlookers the painting was protected, but “the future of our children is not.”
One onlooker is heard saying, “Shame on you,” while another told the activists to “get away from there.”
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The painting, the most famous work from Dutch master Johannes Vermeer and dated from 1665, was not damaged and back on display Friday, museum director Martine Gosselink said in a statement. “We are incredibly grateful that the Girl remained undamaged and is back in her familiar spot so quickly. So that our visitors from all over the world can admire her again, which is what art is for,” she said.
Art detective and author Arthur Brand (“Hitler’s Horses”) on Twitter implored activists to quit using artwork in publicity stunts. “There are other ways to get attention for climate problems.”
Police arrested three people for “public violence against property.” Their identities were not released, in line with Dutch privacy rules.
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Part of a larger climate change protest
The Vermeer masterpiece is just the latest attempt by climate protestors to get attention by attacking famous works of art. Earlier this week, climate protesters threw mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting “Grainstacks” in a German museum. Two weeks ago, protesters threw soup over Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in the National Gallery in London. The paintings were not damaged in either incident.
“The condition of the painting has been investigated by our conservators. Fortunately, the glazed masterpiece was not damaged,” the museum said about the Vermeer painting Thursday. “Art is defenseless, and the Mauritshuis firmly rejects attempts to damage it for any purpose whatsoever.”
The recent efforts, mostly by younger climate activists, are part of an ongoing effort to get the world to grapple with climate change.
The German group behind the attack on the Monet in which mashed potatoes were thrown at the painting are called “The Last Generation” because they say they fear they may be the last human generation.
In the attack – shown in this video on Twitter – one of the activists said (in German): “We are in a climate catastrophe. And all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting. You know what I’m afraid of? I’m afraid because science tells us that we won’t be able to feed our families in 2050.”
“This painting isn’t going to be worth anything if we have to fight over food,” she said.
The trend is “concerning,” tweeted Jonathan Foley, executive director of Project Drawdown, a nonprofit that ranks the importance of climate solutions. Foley previously ran the California Academy of Sciences museum.
“It’s not guaranteed that glass will protect a priceless work of art from liquids. They weren’t designed for that,” he tweeted on Oct. 23. “Also, this will drive up insurance and security costs for museums. A lot.”
Contributing: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.