Institutions around the world find themselves in an embarrassing conundrum today. (All images by the author for Hyperallergic)

The activist group Art Not Oil announced a bold new tack today in their fight to end oil industry sponsorship of the arts, challenging museums and institutions to let go of oil where it hurts the most: by removing all oil paintings from the collection.

“We are all aware of the fact that museums will take money from corporations that materially contribute to the degradation of the planet,” said an unnamed spokesperson for the group, “but we’ve been all too willing to ignore the most obvious problem of all: the oil is right there on the walls.”

Evidence that the example set by these oil paintings leads to dangerous copycat behavior.

The movement has cited a list of primary targets, whose works they classify as especially damaging.

“Rembrandt is hailed as a master painter,” the coalition said in a public statement, “but he would apply literal oil to his canvases, blanketing previously sanitary surfaces with toxic petroleum-based products. Why not just hail BP corporation as a ‘master oceanographer?’”

“Van Gogh’s paintings may have once set the art world on fire,” the statement continued, “but conservators should be very careful around open flames, because those works are made of the same petroleum that leads to oil well fires.”

In addition to finding ways to ethically extract themselves from dependence on funding from environmentally damaging corporations, museums and institutions hasten to correct this egregious display of oil paintings.

“The more these museums continue to show oil paintings, the more they glorify a toxic commodity,” said the spokesperson.

“Don’t even get me started on the strip-mining and deforestation that keeps these institutions comfortable in their frame supply,” said the ANO spokesperson. “The world is truly going to hell in a handbasket.”

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit — including at the Detroit Institute of Arts....

8 replies on “Art Not Oil Demands Museums Stop Showing Oil Paintings”

  1. Is this a joke? The oils in oil paintings are not petroleum products. They have no relation to extractive industries. They are derived from plants – walnut oil, linseed oil, safflower oil, poppy seed oil – all come from living plants harvested renewably. Even the solvents are generally not petroleum based – Turpentine comes from pine trees. Gamsol comes from orange rinds. Find some way to protest that at least isn’t ignorant.

    1. Decker walker, You are absolutely correct in everything you said but you might want to check your calendar today…

  2. It would be a funny April Fool’s joke if 90 percent of the art students today didn’t think the oil in oil painting came from petroleum products. Trust me, they do. Meanwhile, it’s acrylic paint that’s the problem–it’s plastic acrylic resin. Plastic is derived from petroleum and natural gas

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