Category: Museums

Eco-Extremists Shut Down Beethoven Concert

On Nov. 23, 2022, thousands of Germans gathered to hear the Saxon State Orchestra Dresden perform the music of Ludwig van Beethoven at the Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic Hall) in Hamburg, Germany.

Before the orchestra could begin the performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, two members of Germany’s eco-extremist group known as Letzte Generation (Last Generation), seized the stage. Welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, well. To what do we owe the extreme pleasure of this surprising visit?

Letzte Generation seize conductor’s podium at Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg. Photo: Last Generation.

The man and woman dressed in Day-Glow safety vests, immediately glued their hands to the conductor’s podium and began haranguing the audience about “climate collapse,” reportedly there were audible groans from the audience. Horrorshow is right, friend. A real show of horrors.

A gent in the orchestra seating area grumbled out loud: “What’s all this about  eh? Using Ludwig Van like that. He did no harm to anyone. Beethoven just wrote music!” A young man in the mezzanine stood up and shouted at the Last Generation goons: “Well, if it isn’t fat stinking billy goats in poison! How art thou, thou globby bottles of cheap, stinking chip oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if ya have any yarbles, you eunuchs jelly thou!” A lad stood in the balcony section and yelled: “Stop! Stop, you grahzny disgusting sods. It’s a sin, that’s what it is, a filthy unforgivable sin, you bratchnies!”

In her rant the Last Generation woman outraged the audience with the following:

“I am here today because we collectively suppress the climate catastrophe and thus take away our children’s lives in security and peace! Just like there is only a violin concerto by Beethoven, we only have this one planet, the limits of which we disregard so much that climate-related disasters become more common and more deadly.

We all have to take action now and resist the criminal advancement of our rulers! There will be no more Elbphilharmonie to enjoy Beethoven when Hamburg is under water. The crisis is escalating now, before our eyes!”

Ludwig Van just wrote music!

No sooner had the words left the mouth of Last Generation, the two eco-extremists were arrested by police after solvent was used to unglue them from the podium.

Then the music coming up from the floor was our friend Ludwig Van.

Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh. The trombones crunched redgold under the seats, and the trumpets three-wise silverflamed, and there by the door the timps rolling through our guts and out again crunched like candy thunder. Oh, it was wonder of wonders.

And then, a bird of like rarest spun heavenmetal, or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now, came the violin solo above all the other strings, and those strings were like a cage of silk round my seat. Then flute and oboe bored, like worms of like platinum, into the thick thick toffee gold and silver. I was in such bliss, my brothers!

Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Ludwig Van!

Great Music, it said, and Great Poetry would like quieten Modern Youth down and make Modern Youth more Civilized. Civilized my syphilised yarbles. But this does not apply to the climate cult gloopy ones. To devastate is easier and more spectacular than to create for them!

In Gold für die Kunst (Gold for Art), the annual listing of the “100 most influencial people in the art world” issued by the dims of the postmodern German art magazine MONOPOL, Letzte Generation was listed in the 19th position! Supposedly because the eco-vandals “emphasize the value of art for society.”

Ah my droogies, we can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it.

And so farewell from your little droog. And to all others in this story profound shooms of lip-music brrrrr. And they can kiss my sharries. But you, O my brothers, remember sometimes thy little Vallen that was. Amen. And all that.

______

Apologies to Anthony Burgess and his A Clockwork Orange.

No apologies to the gloopy Letzte Generation.

Tweedle-Dee & Tweedle-Dumber. Last Generation members at the Elbe Philharmonic Hall. Photographer unknown.

UPDATE: On Nov. 24, 2022, the German newspaper Junge Freiheit reported that the audience reaction to the Last Generation members disrupting the concert was intense. Catcalls of “Get out!” and “No!” were so loud the woman reciting the climate collapse speech had to stop because she couldn’t be heard.

In a separate report filed by a German Twitter user, the two eco-zealots had glued their hands to a detachable hand-rail that was part of the composer’s podium. When it was decided to remove the two from the stage, an orchestra attendant disconnected the rail from the podium, and with the disrupters still glued to the rail, used the rail as a leash to walk the culprits off stage. I include the photo of the two still glued to their leash after being ejected from the stage.

But it doesn’t stop there. Junge Freiheit went on to report that once the disrupters were kicked out of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, Last Generation members video-taped the woman in a quiet room reading her speech in full. When the eco-zealot group released their video of the concert disruption, the vid was only 12 seconds long. That’s because the group edited-out the negative audience reaction, and replaced it with the speech made off-site.

Last Generation attacks Andy Warhol BMW

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.

Last Generation vandals dump flour on Warhol BMW, as art center guard in black attempts to stop them. Photo: Ultima Generazione.

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.

Art center guard drags off vandal wearing “858 days left” T-shirt. Photo: Ultima Generazione.

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.

Proud of their temper tantrum, Last Generation zealots hold a “sit-in” around the vandalized BMW. Photo: Ultima Generazione.

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 MansGrand 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.

BMW M1 Race Car. Painted by Andy Warhol in 1979.

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.

Eco-Vandals Pour Oil on Gustav Klimt Painting

I have always been captivated by the art of Gustav Klimt, so I was enraged to hear that so-called “climate activists” had attacked one of his renowned paintings. On Nov. 15, 2022, two members of the eco-extremist group Letzte Generation Österreich (Last Generation Austria), raided the Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria. One carried a 2-Quart rubber hot water bottle filled with viscous black oil; he kept it hidden beneath his shirt.

Last Generation Austria goons deface Gustav Klimt painting. Photo: Letzte Generation Österreich.

They entered the museum and quickly made their way to Tod und Leben (Death and Life), a painting created by Gustav Klimt in the early 1900s. The hoodlum with the hot water bottle pulled it out from under his shirt, unplugged it, and hurled the black oil onto the artwork (it was protected by a glass shield). As the oil dripped to the floor, the vandals prepared to glue their hands to the oily picture frame—a museum guard intervened; he wrestled with the offender who chucked the petroleum, and successfully removed him from the gallery.

That left the vandal who managed to glue himself to the painting’s frame—he was left bleating “Stop destroying humanity with fossil fuels. We are rushing towards a climate hell.” Another guard entered the room and tried to stop someone from video-recording the spectacle. Since the Last Generation gang uploaded a video of their assault on Klimt’s painting to their Twitter account, it can be assumed the videographer was also a member of Last Generation.

The Austrian police finally arrived and the eco-extremists were removed from the museum but not arrested. A police spokesman said the arrestees were considered subjects of “a complaint for material damage and disturbance of public order.” That should teach ‘em a lesson, eh?

On the day of the vandalism the museum was free due to the largesse of OMV, the Austrian multinational petrochemical company headquartered in Vienna. No doubt this triggered Last Generation Austria, who thought it appropriate to splatter their targeted painting with oil.

Leopold Museum guard struggles with Last Generation eco-vandal. Photo: Letzte Generation Österreich.

In the aftermath of their attack, Last Generation Austria released a Twitter statement regarding their criminal actions: “URGENT: Klimt’s ‘Death and Life’ in the Leopold Museum covered in oil. People of the last generation poured oil on the Klimt painting ‘Death and Life’ in the Leopold Museum today. New oil and gas wells are a death sentence for humanity.”

While Last Generation Austria boasted of having “poured oil on the Klimt painting,” corporate media hacks reported the “climate activists” were alleged to have poured: “liquid,” “dye,” “black paint,” “black liquid,” or a “black substance” on the artwork. It’s embarrassing that the media calls the culprits who sullied Klimt’s painting “climate activists,” but then, the once respected profession of “journalist” has became an embarrassment.

These “climate activists” are not engaged in non-violent activism, instead they pursue outright vandalism. Truth demands that they are accurately identified for what they are… eco-vandals. It should come as no surprise that the anti-art vandalism of these miserabilists has in fact decreased sympathy for their crusade. I fear they are evolving into the eco-terrorists of the future.

An odd thing about the eco-extremist war on art, is how the vandals make unschooled statements that attempt to link their acts with the art they deface.

When Just Stop Oil vandals glued themselves to a copy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper in London’s Royal Academy of Arts, they said climate collapse would bring famine and the last supper for the world. When Italy’s Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) glued themselves to the frame of Botticelli’s Spring in the Uffizi Gallery, they said climate collapse would keep us from seeing spring days. With Klimt’s Death and Life, their statement was oil is a death sentence for humanity.

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) located in Germany, reacted to the eco-extremist war on art by drafting a statement condemning the vandalizing of art museums for political causes. Directors of 92 major international art museums have signed the statement, among the signatories are The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Gallerie degli Uffizi (Florence), and the Detroit Institute of Arts. The statement in part reads:

“In recent weeks, there have been several attacks on works of art in international museum collections. The activists responsible for them severely underestimate the fragility of these irreplaceable objects, which must be preserved as part of our world cultural heritage. As museum directors entrusted with the care of these works, we have been deeply shaken by their risky endangerment.

Museums are places where people from a wide variety of backgrounds can engage in dialogue and which therefore enable social discourse. In this sense, the core tasks of the museum as an institution – collecting, researching, sharing and preserving – are now more relevant than ever. We will continue to advocate for direct access to our cultural heritage. And we will maintain the museum as a free space for social communication.”

Gustav Klimt painted Tod und Leben (Death and Life) between 1910 and 1911, and later repainted and revised the work between the years 1915-1916. Klimt showed the work publicly for the first time at the International Art Exhibition in Rome of 1911, winning a gold medal for his creation.

“Tod und Leben” (Death and Life). Gustav Klimt. Oil on canvas. First painted between 1910 and 1911, the artist later revised the canvas between the years 1915-1916. Photo courtesy Leopold Museum.

Gustav Klimt was a founding member of the 1897 Vienna Session movement. Along and his fellow Secessionists they challenged the academic art of the day. In 1898 the group began publishing its own journal, Ver Sacrum (Latin for “Sacred Spring”). The journal advanced Secessionist ideas, and in its first issue the Austrian writer and playwright Hermann Bahr delineated their principles:

“Our art is not a fight of modern artists against old ones, but the promotion of arts against the peddlers who pass for artists and have a commercial interest that prevents art from flourishing. Commerce or art, that is the issue before our Secession. It is not an aesthetic debate, but a confrontation between two states of the spirit.”

Written in January 1898, Bahr’s pearls of wisdom reach into the present, they have become a maxim for thoughtful contemporary artists. I’ve seen a number of Klimt’s paintings over the years, and was always impressed by his “impasto” technique; paint applied by brushes heavy with paint and applied in thick brush strokes. It’s not easy to see this in reproductions, where his works appear smooth and polished. However, up-close his paintings are full of rough and aggressive textures, but always controlled by a masterful hand.

Detail of Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life.” Photo: Steve Zucker/Smarthistory

In 2012 my wife and I visited the Getty Center in Los Angeles to see the exhibit Gustav Klimt, The Magic of Line; it was a memorable and popular exhibit. However, there was one historic oversight in the show I couldn’t get out of my head; it had to do with the Getty’s captioning of Klimt’s preliminary sketches for his Faculty Paintings.

In 1894 the Austrian Ministry of Education gave Klimt a commission to design ceiling paintings for the University of Vienna (founded in 1365). Klimt was asked to create paintings symbolizing Medicine, Jurisprudence, and Philosophy. The works became knows as the his Faculty Paintings. The University was outraged by the finished paintings, viewing them as pornographic. Klimt returned the commission money and sold off the three 13-foot-tall paintings. Eventually Philosophy and Jurisprudence would end up in the collection of Klimt’s patron August Lederer, and Medicine became part of the Austrian Gallery collection.

Detail of “Tod und Leben” by Gustav Klimt.

My wife noticed a discrepancy in the wall text caption for the displayed Faculty Paintings sketches; it said the paintings had been “destroyed” in 1945 but the exhibit book said the paintings were “burned in a fire.” No other details were mentioned… but what else happened in 1945?

The question of who destroyed the Faculty Paintings by fire, and why they did so, drove me to write a 2012 essay titled: Gustav Klimt: At The Getty.

My article details Austria’s 1938 invasion by the Nazis, and how they seized art treasures owned by Jews; the art collections of August Lederer and the Austrian Gallery were stolen by the Nazis. Many works by Klimt were included, not because he was Jewish (he was not), but because he cooperated with, and had an affinity for the Jewish people. Moreover, the Nazis condemned modern painting and sculpture as degenerate art, because, they said, it was influenced by Bolsheviks and Jews.

The Nazis hid a large part of their stolen art treasures in Immendorf Castle, located in Lower Austria. When Hitler committed suicide and the Soviet Red Army captured Berlin in 1945, the Nazi regime disintegrated. To prevent their stolen art from falling into the hands of their enemies, the Nazi SS set charges and blew up Immendorf Castle, the resulting fire obliterated the seized collections of August Lederer, the Austrian Gallery, the Museum for Applied Arts of Vienna, and many of Klimt’s works—including the three Faculty Paintings.

It’s a certainty the incurious eco-vandals of Letzte Generation Österreich are pig-ignorant when it comes to the Nazi confiscation and destruction of Gustav Klimt’s wondrous paintings and drawings. The ignoramuses of Last Generation without a doubt think themselves cleaver, virtuous, and morally justified in pouring oil on a Klimt masterpiece.

Regardless, people around the world when seeing that big, oily black splotch covering Klimt’s painting, will think of how the Nazis desecrated art and persecuted artists. I can’t see how Last Generation can avoid that comparison.

“They pursue outright vandalism.” Photo: Letzte Generation Österreich.

“The Scream.” Edvard Munch. Oil paint, pastel, tempera on cardboard. 1893.

UPDATE: On Nov. 11, 2022, three eco-vandals from the Norwegian group “Stopp oljeletinga” (Stop Oil Exploration), attacked Edvard Munch’s 1893 masterpiece The Scream housed at the National Museum of Norway.

Two vandals attempted to glue themselves to the painting while shouting “I scream for people dying” and “I scream when lawmakers ignore science,” while a third video-taped the assault. The three vandals were women from Finland, Denmark, and Germany.

Museum security guards prevented the vandals from gluing themselves to the painting’s frame; all three were arrested.

A spokes-goon for the group told the Associated Press, “We are campaigning against ‘Scream’ because it is perhaps Norway’s most famous painting.” Yeah, right… and this artist filing his report in Lost Angeles, says… “I scream against barbarians who vandalized art!

Eco-Vandals Attack Warhol Campbell Soup Cans

On Nov. 8, 2022, two women from Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies (SFFS) entered the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Australia, and vandalized a famed silkscreen print series by Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup I. One vandal used blue spray-paint to draw squiggles on the framed artworks, while the other vainly attempted to glue a small Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies red banner to one of the damaged framed prints. What, no tomato soup?!

The museum had hung the ten prints in double rows, one above the other; the vandals were only able to reach the bottom row. After defacing the lower row of prints, the insufferables glued their right hands to the prints; one could be heard yelling: “We are in a climate emergency.” When confronted by museum security, the two pulled their hands off of the artworks before the glue could set and ran away like the cowards they are. The miscreants were not pursued nor arrested.

Vandals from “Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies” prepare to glue their hands on Warhol prints as museum security calls for help. Photo: Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies.

National Gallery staff took down the bottom row of prints to clean the frames and check for print damage. The museum told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “A protest has taken place at the National Gallery of Australia following similar incidents elsewhere in Australia and overseas.” The statement ended with the Gallery making clear it “does not wish to promote these actions and has no further comment.”

After their attack, the SFFS cadre, hoping to impress with their militant eloquence, commented from their Twitter account:

“Do you think Andy Warhol would have been proud? Stop pouring fuel on the fire. Choose a livable planet for all, over profits for a few. Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies is highlighting the danger of capitalism by glueing onto Andy Warhol. Art depicting consumerism gone mad. While Australians starve, Government pays $22,000 a minute to subsidize fossil fuels.”

Like the rest of their comrades in the climate collapse cult, the Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies group are a funereal bunch. The mirthless prose from their website sounds like the ranting of a death cult: “The old world is dying. We are in the last hour, the darkest hour. This world is being decimated before our eyes. We are in between moments.” These are the words used to recruit wackos to their cause.

Save the environment by destroying art! Eco-vandal glued to Warhol print. Photo: Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies.

Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies belongs to the so-called A22 Network, a loose-knit grouping of eco-fanatics that call themselves a “coalition of civil resistance organizations.”

It includes Just Stop Oil (UK), Letzte Generation (Germany), and Ultima Generazione (Italy), groups who have been raiding and vandalizing art museums since June 2022. Their strategy to stop government financial support of the natural gas and coal industries… is to trash art museums.

Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans were initially 32 small paintings on canvas, each measuring 16 by 20 inches and depicting a soup can with a different name; Chicken Noodle, Tomato, Green Pea, Cream of Mushroom, et cetera (at the time Campbell’s was manufacturing 32 different soup flavors). In 1962 Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was a nobody when he showed these paintings at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles; it was his first solo exhibit. A handful of schmoes attended and Warhol never showed up. Not a single print was purchased; a New York showing of the prints was cancelled. If only that had been the end of Andy’s career.

“Campbell’s Soup Can (Tomato).” Andy Warhol. 1962. Painting on canvas, 20 by 16 inches. Sold for $9 million at Christie’s 2010 auction.

The name Warhol ultimately became synonymous with Pop Art. Art critics and aficionados have thought, and still think, that his early 60’s artworks depicting Brillo Boxes, Dollar Bills, Coca-Cola Bottles, the faces of celebrities, and yes… Campbell Soup cans, were marxian critiques of capitalism, or subversive takes on the “dullness and ambivalence of American culture.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Warhol was apolitical. He worshiped celebrity and consumer culture, and his maxim was “business is the best art.” As for Campbell and Coca-Cola, he lived on the stuff and said as much. After his passing, Christie’s Auction house in 2010 sold a single Warhol Campbell Soup Can painting on canvas measuring 20 by 16 inches for $9 million. In 2022 Christie’s sold a Warhol silkscreen print of Marilyn Monroe titled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn for $195 million. Dirty rotters.

It should come as no surprise that I’m not a fan of Andy Warhol, I never was. His Pop Art was banal and empty. Andy perhaps said it best: “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” I always got a kick out of the brilliant art critic Robert Hughes, who said in his 2008 documentary The Mona Lisa Curse, that Warhol “was one of the stupidest people I’ve ever met in my life.”

My dislike of Andy Warhol aside, I hold even less regard for the joyless Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies group and their medievalist anti-art friends in the climate cult. While I spurn Warhol’s Pop Art mediocrities, I recognize his place in the history of 20th Century art; like him or not, his works have a place in art museums. What does not belong in an art museum are hordes of half-witted, imbecilic eco-extremists defacing and sullying the world’s art masterpieces.