Police officers stand around climate protection demonstrator Aimée van Baalen (22) on Wexstraße. She belongs to the group “Last Generation”. After a long break, activists have now blocked numerous streets in the city today.
Paul Zinken | Picture Alliance | Getty Images
Police have arrested two climate activists who threw mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in a museum in Germany to protest fossil fuel production, a stunt which caused no damage to the art.
The protesters on Sunday targeted Monet’s “Les Meules” at the Barberini Museum in Potsdam, a city on the border of Berlin. The impressionist painting, which was enclosed behind protective glass, sold for $110.7 million at a 2019 auction.
The German climate group Last Generation took credit for the stunt. The group posted video footage on Twitter showing a man and a woman tossing mashed potatoes at the painting, kneeling in front of it and gluing their hands to the wall.
The incident was the latest attack on famous artwork carried out by protesters calling for action on climate change. Earlier this month, activists from the campaign group Just Stop Oil were arrested after throwing tomato soup on Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting in the National Gallery in London.
“We are in a climate catastrophe. And all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting,” the woman shouted in German while kneeling in front of Monet’s painting. “This painting is not going to be worth anything if we have to fight over food.”
These climate protests have received widespread attention online and varying reactions, with some people criticizing activists for conducting what they see as misguided attacks of admired art in order to gain attention.
The Last Generation wrote in a statement on Twitter: “We make this #Monet the stage and the public the audience. If it takes a painting — with #MashedPotatoes or #TomatoSoup thrown at it — to make society remember that the fossil fuel course is killing us all: Then we’ll give you #MashedPotatoes on a painting!”
The Monet painting will be on display again by Wednesday, the museum said in a statement.