On Nov. 18, 2022, eleven members of the Italian eco-extremist group Ultima Generazione (Last Generation), invaded the Fabbrica del Vapore (Factory of Steam) art center in Milan, Italy to disrupt the exhibition Andy Warhol: The Advertising of Form. In particular, the vandals attacked a BMW M1 race car that Warhol painted in 1979.
The eco-vandals outnumbered and overtook the museum guards, and dumped 17 pounds of flour on the BMW. They also threw paint-filled balloons on the museum floor, after which a number of them sat down around the BMW to harangue art lovers with apocalyptic rants about the end of the world.
Unbelievably, after covering the car, floor, museum staff and art lovers in thick clouds of white flour, the fools of Last Generation attempted to glue their hands to the BMW as well as the concrete floor; an impossible task considering everything was covered with finely milled powder.
Sheesh, talk about incompetence—and these are the people who think they’re going to save the world. Museum guards literally dragged the blockheads out of the gallery and turned five of them over to the police. The authorities identified the culprits, but at the time of this writing there was no word on charges. The assault on Fabbrica del Vapore was the third vandalism attack mounted by Last Generation against an art institution.
One of the vandals dragged out of the gallery wore a T-shirt reading: “Ultima Generazione, We Have 858 Days Left.” That number of doom comes from environmental “studies” that assert we only have 858 days left to reduce “carbon emissions,” otherwise there will be planetary climate collapse.
Some readers of this blog may be too young to remember the legions of fanatics that prophesized the world would come to an end on Jan. 1, 2000, or what was popularly known as Y2K (Year 2000). It would be lights out for civilization—planes would fall from the sky, electricity and water systems would fail along with banking and food delivery. Except the end never came. Last Generation and all the other eco-zealot fundamentalists, are just the latest crop of doomsayers.
The producer of the show, Stefano Lacagnina, said the vandals paid for entrance tickets, and had smuggled the bags of all-purpose flour into the museum by hiding them in their clothes. He commented on the vandalized car: “It is an important piece, which for the first time was exhibited and has great value—about 10 million. Now we don’t know what to do.” The exhibition closed temporarily in order to clean up the tremendous mess. The Ultima Generazione goons released a statement that in part read:
“8Kg of flour on the BMW painted by Andy Warhol. Works of art have been targeted in order to highlight the hypocrisy of our society’s values: do we really get outraged at the simulation of damage to works of art while the ongoing objective destruction of works of nature, ecosystems and our own lives leaves us indifferent?”
The Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, condemned the vandals of Ultima Generazione; he said on Twitter: “Let them pay the damages and spend some time where they deserve.” The cultural engagement department of the German car manufacturer Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW), also released a statement:
“Art is as priceless as it is untouchable. It belongs to all of humanity and reflects the great achievements of which each of us is capable. Andy Warhol’s 1979 Art Car is a unique masterpiece and we have no sympathy for a violent attack on the artist’s work defaced for many decades.”
In 1975 BMW worked with French race car driver Hervé Poulain in starting The BMW Art Car Project. That year Alexander Calder painted the first car for Poulain; who drove it in the 24 Hours of Le Mans—Grand Prix of Speed and Endurance race in Le Mans, France. Since then 20 artists have been commissioned to paint BMWs, including Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Ernst Fuchs, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, and Jeff Koons. Artists picked for the BMW Art Car Project are selected by a panel of international judges. Andy Warhol would paint his BMW in 1979.
Most of the artists associated with the BMW Art Car Project are not my cup of tea, save for Ernst Fuchs (1930-2015), a Viennese artist who founded the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. I insist that his brand of neo-surrealism was a precursor to the psychedelic aesthetic of the mid-1960s. As for Jeff Koons, he should be made to paint car bodies for the rest of life. But my liking or disliking an artist is not pertinent here, what is relevant is that barbarians can’t be allowed to rampage through museums and vandalize artworks.
Warhol used 13 pounds of paint to cover his BMW canvas; he supposedly painted the vehicle in 28 minutes. The Warhol car participated in the 1979 Le Mans 24-hour race, after which it was placed in a museum. BMW maintains a website exhibit of their BMW canvases titled: Wild at Art: The History of the BMV Art Cars. Thomas Girst, who has directed the Art Cars project since 2004, made a statement about the project:
“In the beginning the cars were raced. There wasn’t much of a public relations effort around them. Since then, some of the Art Cars have been used in advertisements to show that BMW is a player in the arts. With the Eliason work, part of what we are doing is raising awareness of alternative and renewable energy sources.”
Oh sure… I’m certain Ultima Generazione will be so impressed.
There’s no doubt the luddites of Ultima Generazione targeted Warhol’s BMW because they see it as an evil symbol of car culture and the wicked petroleum industry they revile. What’s puzzling about this particular infantile “protest” was their dumping flour on the car. Since eco-vandals kvetch about “climate collapse” being the cause of starvation and mass death, you’d think they might have concluded that baking loaves of bread would be a more productive endeavor.