Predictably climate-extremists have attacked two more major art museums, as their campaign to coerce art institutions escalates. On Nov. 5, 2022, two members of the eco-extremist organization Extinction Rebellion walked into the Prado museum in Madrid, Spain. They entered Room 038 of the museum where the paintings La Maja Vestida (The Clothed Maja) and La Maja Desnuda (The Nude Maja) by Francisco Goya hang together as companion pieces.
One vandal graffitied the museum wall with +1,5°C… a reference to a goal the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement set on preventing the global temperature from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Simultaneously the other vandal glued her right hand to the frame holding The Clothed Maja. After graffitiing the museum wall that vandal glued her right hand to the frame around The Nude Maja.
Members of Extinction Rebellion were responsible for the stunt, but the anti-art action was carried out under the nom de guerre of Futuro Vegetal (Vegetable Future). What a misanthropic but revelatory name for an eco-extremist group; “Yes, we struggle for Vegetable liberation, but human freedom, eh… not so much.”
Prado museum officials tweeted a denunciation of the attack: “We condemn the protest that took place in the museum. The works have not been damaged but the frames have suffered slight blemishes. We are working to get back to normal as quickly as possible. We reject endangering cultural heritage as a means of protest.”
As the vandalism unfolded police were called in. They arrested four individuals, the two who were video-taped vandalizing museum property and two “journalists” who just happened to be there “covering the protest” as the Goya paintings were assailed. All four are under investigation for crimes against the “artistic historical patrimony.” In Spain people who damage property of historic or artistic value can be jailed for at least six months. On Nov. 7, 2022, all four were released from custody.
On a personal note, I have visited Spain’s Prado museum. It truly is one of the greatest art museums in the world today. I recall standing before the Maja paintings in delight. Francisco Goya was and remains, one of my favorite artists—the last of the old master painters and the first of the moderns.
The dark, gloomy realism of Goya’s later works greatly influenced me, perhaps more than any other artist, and his grueling etching series Los Desastres de la Guerra (Disasters of War) showed me how art can make the most brutal subject a transformative expression of bewildering beauty.
I have boundless admiration for Goya, but for Futuro Vegetal… only the deepest contempt. In 1799 the praiseworthy Goya uttered words that described the invalorous and ill-informed of his day; his words can apply to the ignorant and misguided of our present—they certainly apply to the dullards of Extinction Rebellion: “The sleep of reason produces monsters.”
On Nov. 4, 2022 four young women from the eco-extremist group Ultima Generazione (Last Generation), entered the Palazzo Bonaparte museum in Rome, Italy. They surreptitiously carried cans of pea soup—can you guess why? To celebrate the 170th anniversary of the birth of Vincent Van Gogh, the museum had mounted an exhibit dedicated to the works of the Dutch artist, with 50 of his paintings on display. The hoodlums planned to target The Sower, the jewel of the collection.
Three of the eco-vandals surrounded Van Gogh’s 1888 masterpiece The Sower, and shouted end of the world slogans about climate apocalypse; they opened their soup cans and hurled pea soup onto the wondrous painting as the fourth vandal video-taped the criminal act. The three sat on the floor and glued their hands to the wall below the artwork.
Mercifully the painting had a glass covering for protection, but where was museum security? The eco-extremist war on art has been waging since June 2022; there have been waves of vandalism attacks mounted by climate zealots on museums and galleries. Art institutions should be fully alert and prepared to prevent and block these destructive actions.
In the aftermath of their soupy juvenile delinquent attack, Last Generation released a doomful statement, “Everything that we would have the right to see in our present and our future is being obscured by a real and imminent catastrophe, just as this pea puree has covered the work in the fields.” Yup, Last Generation members have pea puree for brains. Police arrested all four eco-extremists, but I have no details on charges or if they were released.
The Sower was on loan from the Kröller-Müller Museum of the Netherlands. This begs the question of museums loaning out works. With vandals glueing themselves to, and pouring soup on historic artworks, why would a museum loan a priceless canvas to other art institutions? Artworks that are part of the cultural legacy of the Western world are not being kept safe from attack by eco-vandals. A stiff prison sentence for organizers who assail our cultural inheritance would do wonders. The museum commented on the vandalism:
“However important the climate message may be, art is defenseless, and actions that could lead to damage, for whatever purpose, the Kröller-Müller Museum strongly rejects.”
The eco-zealots and their apologists say that all targeted paintings have been “protected by glass,” but that’s a lie. On July 4, 2022 two cretins from Just Stop Oil, glued protest-art prints directly onto the surface of John Constable’s 1821 oil painting, The Hay Wain. The eco-vandals have succeeded only in creating an atmosphere where it’s too risky to loan out famous artworks; in other words they are holding historic art hostage. Italy’s Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano repudiated Last Generation attacking The Sower, saying:
“Culture, which is a key part of our identity, should be defended and protected and not used as a megaphone for other forms of protest.
I’ve come here to stigmatize what I see as a very grave act. We are a democratic country that disciplines and makes possible all forms of protest. If you want to protest for the environment there are many ways, but you can’t damage an important artwork. Now justice will take its course. Luckily the work was well protected and I’m overjoyed that it was not seriously damaged.
We must work to make sure these things don’t happen above all by making young people understand that this is not the way to protest.”
It was reported on Nov. 7, 2022 that prosecutors in Rome have opened an investigation into the soup attack on Van Gogh’s The Sower. Italy’s Carabiniere national police force said the vandals responsible for the vandalism may face charges of “damaging, despoiling, vandalizing, and the illicit use of cultural goods.” The police added that the vandals face prison terms of up to five years.
From Nov. 6 to Nov. 18, 2022, bureaucrats from 200 countries will gather for the COP27 Climate Change Conference in Egypt. Joe Biden and “Special Presidential Envoy for Climate” John Kerry will attend to boast about crippling US energy independence and forcing Americans to buy $60,000 electronic vehicles with batteries that are only made in China. Should be a lot of fun, especially with all those carbon emissions spewing from jet planes bringing climate apparatchiks into Egypt. Big fun, I wonder if mega polluters Communist China and India will join the soirée.
The eco-extremists won’t bother to attend COP27 for a glue-athon in Egypt, since Egyptian authorities will make their stunt work a rather painful one-act performance. All the same, European museums might want to lock up tight, batten down the hatches, and brace themselves… because glue bearing barbarians have entered the Gates of the West.