A pair of climate protesters in hurled tomato soup on a Vincent Van Gogh painting at London’s National Gallery Friday — the latest in a series of attempts to vandalize famous artwork to speak against oil.
London’s Metropolitan Police said officers arrested two people on suspicion of criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
The duo were supporters of the activist group Just Stop Oil, which engages in publicity stunts to bring the public’s attention to climate change.
Video shows the pair dropping an outer layer of clothing, revealing their Just Stop Oil T-shirts and taking out the cans of soup. The painting is enclosed in glass and aside from minor damage to the frame, the artwork is “unharmed,” the National Gallery said in a statement.
“Human creativity and brilliance is on show in this gallery, yet our heritage is being destroyed by our Government’s failure to act on the climate and cost of living crisis,” Just Stop Oil said in a statement not long after the footage went viral.
“What use is art when we face the collapse of civil society?” the group continued. “The art establishment, artists and the art-loving public need to step up into Civil Resistance if they want to live in a world where humans are around to appreciate art.”
Sunflowers were the subject of two series of paintings by van Gogh, and pieces of art from the floral set sell for tens of millions of dollars.
This is not Just Stop Oil’s first public assault on Van Gogh — the revered painter is a common target of climate activists’ attention.
In June, a pair of activists with Just Stop Oil glued their hands to the frame of a Van Gogh painting at a London gallery to protest the government’s climate policies.
Louis McKechnie, 21, and Emily Brocklebank, 24, glued themselves to Van Gogh’s 1889 painting, “Peach Trees in Blossom, which hangs at the Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House in London.
“A piece of art receives this protection and state concern. Whilst people’s in Ethiopia, Somalia, India, Pakistan, the USA, Australia (to name a few) who are suffering from climate change NOW get ignored and left,” the group wrote. “What’s more important? This painting? Or a future”?!
The Associated Press contributed to this report.