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.”
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.”
“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.”
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I couldn’t in good conscience accept an invitation to an exhibition hosted and sponsored by a brutal regime.
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Researchers are investigating whether the presence of lead formate originated from past attempts to conserve the painting.
Despite the deluge of online memes, reactions on the ground were mostly positive, but some think the work lacks context.