While most modern-day protests take place in the streets, some take their efforts inside. Fine art museums specifically have recently garnered attention from climate activists, as they see art institutions as a stage for their actions. For example, several months ago, protesters were arrested for damaging a Degas sculpture at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. In 2022, two people threw soup at van Gogh’s Sunflowers, entering the headlines and becoming the first activists to start a years-long tradition of causing or attempting to cause damage to an art institution’s property. It is safe to say that the latest case of an attempted act of vandalism at the Louvre involving da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was inspired by the said ‘soup’ incident.
Mona Lisa: Climate Activists Hurl Soup at Da Vinci Masterpiece
This Sunday, two activists wearing white T-shirts that said “Riposte Alimentaire,” or “food response” in English, entered the Louvre in Paris, France, and hurled soup at the Mona Lisa. The painting, which has been under protective bulletproof glass for decades, did not suffer any damage. The two women addressed the crowd of museum-goers in French, asking, “What is more important: art or the right to sustainable and healthy food?” The protest happened while French farmers were blocking motorways around Paris as part of a series of demonstrations organized by the local agricultural unions.
Riposte Alimentaire is an organization that is part of the same network as Just Stop Oil, a British activist group that was responsible for the ‘van Gogh soup incident.’ Riposte Alimentaire has admitted that it was involved in the latest protest at the Louvre and that the activists had peaceful intentions and only wanted to bring attention to environmental issues and food security.
It is still unclear how the two activists managed to sneak the soup past the museum security. With the attempts at vandalizing objects of artistic and cultural heritage, targeting major art institutions in the US and Europe, it is expected that large museums like the Louvre will start taking appropriate security measures soon.
The Mona Lisa, the most famous painting in the world, has seen a fair share of theft and vandalism attempts throughout its existence. For example, it was stolen in 1911, suffered an acid attack in the 1950s, had a ceramic cup thrown at it in 2009, and had its protective glass smeared in frosting in 2022.