Photo of the action on July 22 (all photos courtesy Ultima Generazione)

Two activists from the Italian climate advocacy group Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) glued their hands to the protective glass over Sandro Botticelli’s “Primavera” (c. 1480) at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence last Friday, July 22. A third activist unfurled a banner that read: “Ultima Generazione: No Gas No Carbone.” The painting was reportedly undamaged.

The action was the most recent in a string of climate protests that entail activists gluing themselves to priceless paintings. Late last month, members of the group Just Stop Oil attached themselves to the frames of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Peach Trees in Blossom” (1889) at the Courtauld Gallery in London and Horatio McCulloch’s “My Heart’s in the Highlands” (1860) at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. Less than a week later, members of the same organization glued themselves to the frame of a John Constable painting hanging in London’s National Gallery.

A video of the recent protest shows Uffizi Gallery staff dragging the activists away from the Botticelli work, which depicts the lush greenery and flora of the spring season and is considered one of the Italian Renaissance painter’s masterpieces.

“Nowadays is it possible to see, or even just imagine, a spring as beautiful as this one? Fires, food crises, and droughts make it increasingly difficult,” the group said in a statement.

In a list of demands, Ultima Generazione called for the Italian government to stop the reopening of coal power plants in the wake of lowered gas supplies from Russia, end natural gas drilling, and increase solar and wind energy by 20 gigawatts (one gigawatt is enough to power 750,000 homes).

Images show the activists being dragged away from the painting.

The Uffizi Gallery did not reply to Hyperallergic’s immediate request for comment, but according to Italian press agency ANSA, the museum said the painting was not damaged and police escorted the three activists out of the museum.

The protest comes after Europe experienced an unprecedented heat wave last week that stalled a floating art project at Documenta in Kassel and shuttered museums in the United Kingdom. More than 1,000 people died from the heat waves in Spain and Portugal, according to the two countries’ local authorities. Across Europe, heat waves — attributed to climate change — are becoming hotter and more frequent.

The Latest

Required Reading

This week, the Getty Museum is returning ancient terracottas to Italy, parsing an antisemitic mural at Documenta, an ancient gold find in Denmark, a new puritanism, slavery in early Christianity, and much more.

Elaine Velie

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.