Monet and Others: Painting Vandalism by Climate Activists

Monet and Others: Cases of Painting Vandalism by Climate Activists

Painting vandalism is getting worse every year, with many environmentalist and eco-activist groups targeting precious artworks by Old Masters. Organizations like Riposte Alimentaire, Just Stop Oil, and Third Act organize protest campaigns and attacks at unique masterpieces to attract attention to a variety of global issues. Here is a brief account of the 2024 art vandalism cases, including the most recent poster sticking at the timeless Monet canvas.

Monet’s Painting Vandalism

A recent act of vandalism happened to the Monet painting titled Coquelicots, produced in 1873. The Riposte Alimentaire group member attached an adhesive poster to the canvas painting exhibited at Musée d’Orsay in an effort to raise public awareness of the dangers of climate change.

The female activist placed the poster depicting a barren red landscape directly onto the painting’s surface, saying that the image symbolized the not-that-distant future of humanity in case it wouldn’t stop climate change. The vandal was arrested.

Other Vandalism Cases in 2024

The best-known case of painting vandalism in 2024 happened on January 28 when two environmental activists belonging to the Riposte Alimentaire group threw orange-colored soup at the Mona Lisa. The agenda behind the attack was to urge people to reconsider the importance of art against the rising problem of global hunger and lack of access to healthy food for millions of people.

Luckily, the masterpiece suffered no damage because of its comprehensive protection with armored glass. However, the attack quickly obtained publicity and gave the art community new food for thought about the search for more constructive ways of expressing environmental concerns instead of threatening the global community’s precious cultural heritage.

Another act of protest threatening art was staged by Riposte Alimentaire at the Louvre Museum in Paris in early May. This time, the 1830 Liberty Leading The People by Eugene Delacroix became the target of their attack. The activists applied adhesive posters to the painting’s surface, calling the museum attendees for resistance and chanting slogans about the importance of sustainable food access.

Why Do Climate Activists Vandalize Paintings?

While the activists’ message delivery mode seems ridiculous and senseless to many, environmentalists themselves confer a deep meaning to this procedure. They claim to target unique and precious works of art with their vandal attacks because they believe art can’t exist on a destroyed planet. Therefore, in line with their arguments, humanity should pay more attention to practical economic and climatic problems instead of contemplating art and preserving the cultural heritage for generations with no future on the dying Earth.