Australian Vandals Glue Picasso Painting

On Oct. 9, 2022, three extremists from Extinction Rebellion assailed a Picasso painting on display at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. It was the last day of the museum’s exhibit The Picasso Century, which ran from June 10, 2022 to Oct. 9, 2022. The show featured 80 works by Picasso and 100 artworks from contemporaries like Henri Matisse, Salvador Dalí, Natalia Goncharova, and dozens more.

The Aussie vandals, wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with Extinction Rebellion logos, approached Pablo Picasso’s antiwar painting Massacre in Korea. They placed a large black banner beneath the painting that read: “Extinction Rebellion: Climate Chaos = War + Famine.” Then two of the eco-extremists, a 49-year-old woman and a 59-year-old man, poured superglue on the palms of their hands and glued themselves to the “perspex” glass shield that protects the painting.

Extinction Rebellion vandals glue themselves to glass shield protecting Pablo Picasso’s 1951 painting “Massacre in Korea.” Photo: Extinction Rebellion

After ranting and raving about the end of the world for nearly an hour, the police safely removed the glued hands of the two grumblers from the glass. The two were arrested but later released “pending further inquiries.” What exactly does releasing these scoundrels accomplish?

Museums employ hired personnel to protect and safeguard artworks on display. I can’t tell you how many times museum guards have insisted that I step away from a painting. As an artist I move in close to examine and study an artist’s technique, but I always comply with such requests because they are reasonable and necessary. I’ve talked to many a museum guard, and their biggest complaint is that people young and old always try to touch the artworks, and most museum works are not protected by glass or plexiglass shields.

Extinction Rebellion, the National Gallery of Victoria, and the police, all said Picasso’s painting was not damaged. But these days environmentalists are attacking museum paintings as a way of protesting climate change; artworks have been physically damaged in these actions. Is the public at large required to keep their distance from museum artworks, but environmentalists are given a pass to glue their filthy hands to an artwork because of a “noble cause”?

The less done to discourage vandalizing art today, the greater the number of artworks desecrated tomorrow. In Sept. of 2022 I wrote about the ongoing eco-extremist war on art. Started in the UK by the “Just Stop Oil” group of ecologists, like-minded eco-radicals in Italy, Germany, and now Australia have joined the crusade to combat climate change by shutting down art museums and glueing themselves to well-known works of art. Extinction Rebellion was also founded in the UK and is politically allied with Just Stop Oil.

There’s another aspect to normalizing the trashing of art as political “protest.” Picasso’s Massacre in Korea was on loan from the Musée Picasso in Paris, France. Many works in The Picasso Century exhibit were on loan from museums. Massacre in Korea is worth $280 million. Why should museums loan their works to venues that cannot guarantee a safe, secure exhibit space; some ding-a-ling might glue their buttocks to a masterpiece! If glue-ins in museums continue to be tolerated then museums will simply stop loaning artworks.

Which means Extinction Rebellion and groups like them are denying people access to culture. So, who are the fascists now?

Left: Extinction Rebellion hourglass logo. Right: Black widow spider hourglass marking

The Extinction Rebellion logo is a double triangle; it supposedly represents an hourglass.

The message behind the symbol is—time is running out for the human race, and all life on earth will soon end because of climate change.

Sorry, but the group should have designed a better logo. All I see is the hourglass mark found on the abdomen of the poisonous black widow spider. Then again… that’s an appropriate symbol for a fanatical cult. Hey, Extinction Rebellion, Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole… not like you!

Pablo Picasso painted Massacre in Korea in 1951 while that bloody conflict was well underway. The painting has been seen as a statement against “American atrocities,” but interestingly enough there’s nothing about the soldiers lined up to slaughter innocents that reveals national identity. The troops depicted don’t wear US Army uniforms or carry US weaponry, in fact they seem like medieval knights wearing helmets and carrying swords and pikes.

Picasso purportedly based his painting on the 1950 massacre at Sinchon, a mass killing of civilians at a village of the same name. The North Korean communists say the US military was responsible for slaying 35,000 civilians in and around the village, but the facts regarding guilt for Sinchon were never open-and-shut like those surrounding the 1968 My Lai Massacre in Vietnam.

Picasso’s Massacre in Korea echoes two famous paintings that deal with political violence. One was The Third of May, painted by Francisco Goya in 1808. The other, The Execution of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, was painted by French painter Édouard Manet in 1867. These two canvases were based on hair-raising historic events of intrigue and betrayal; I invite the reader to do some research on the background stories.

The composition of The Third of May, The Execution of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, and Massacre in Korea might be similar, but the emotional impact is not the same. Picasso’s effort may or may not form a triad with Goya and Manet on the theme of “man’s inhumanity to man,” but my heart remains true to Francisco Goya, who somehow managed to put the viewer in the midst of the poor souls about to be shot down.

“Massacre in Korea.” Pablo Picasso. Oil painting on plywood. 1951.

When Picasso painted Massacre in Korea he was a member of the French Communist Party (Parti Communiste Français, PCF), which he joined in 1944. However, the Stalinist PCF was highly critical of Massacre, since it was far afield of the “socialist realism” demanded by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Picasso never left the PCF, but he remained an obstinate wildcard amongst the reds. Referring to the PCF he allegedly told French artist, novelist, and poet Jean Cocteau: “I have joined a family, and like all families, it’s full of shit.”

As for Extinction Rebellion’s slogan of “Climate Chaos = War + Famine.” The Korean War, which took place from 1950 to 1953, had absolutely nothing to do with climate change. The nations who fought the war—the United States, South and North Korea, Communist China and the Soviet Union, engaged in the conflict for geo-political reasons.

Famine plagued North Korea from 1994 to 1998, and that had nothing to do with climate change. At least 600,000 starved to death and many others suffered malnutrition, not because of “climate chaos,” but because of horrible decisions made by the North Korean communist regime.

Likewise, a terrible famine struck Ukraine in 1932, millions of Ukrainians starved to death. But the famine was not caused by climate change, it was man-made; the policies of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin led to the Holodomor, causing nearly 4 million Ukrainians to die of starvation.

As I write, Russia and the US are fighting a proxy war in Ukraine, the battle may well turn into WW3. The Biden administration is deeply involved in the conflict, having sent Ukraine $66 billion in lethal weapons… so far. I guess the decades long bloodbath in Iraq and Afghanistan taught us nothing. But Russia isn’t Afghanistan; it possesses more nuclear warheads than any country on earth.

The peace movement in the US went to sleep long ago, narcotized by democratic party fairy tales. Europe, without Russia’s oil and natural gas, will freeze this winter. No peace talks are taking place; everyone involved—the US, NATO, EU, Ukraine, and Russia… fan the flames of war. The nuclear sword of Damocles hangs above our heads. And “climate chaos” has nothing to do it.

But what does Extinction Rebellion do in the face of impending world war? Why of course… they glue their hands to a Picasso painting!

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