In an action this morning, Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (c. 1665) at the Hague’s Mauritshuis Museum in the Netherlands became the latest masterpiece to be targeted by climate activists. This time, however, the two protesters did not throw food directly on the painting: In a creative divergence from the pattern sweeping European museums, one activist poured a red substance on the other (it’s unclear whether it’s tomato soup), who then glued his head to the work.
“How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless being apparently destroyed before your eyes?” one of the activists asked, as seen in a video posted by Twitter user @Kolpen.
Onlookers are heard voicing their disapproval of the action with reactions that included “obscene,” “stupid,” “get away from there,” “shame on you,” and “shut up!”
“Do you feel outraged? Good,” the activist countered. “Where is that feeling when you see the planet being destroyed before our very eyes?”
Since this morning’s action, Dutch authorities have reportedly arrested three people for “public violence against property.” A museum spokesperson told Hyperallergic that the painting, which was protected by glass, was unharmed.
“The Girl with a Pearl Earring will be back on view as soon possible,” the spokesperson said. “Until then, the room the painting is housed in will remain closed to the public. Art is defenseless, and the Mauritshuis firmly rejects attempts to damage it for any purpose whatsoever.”
Although the two people in the video are wearing t-shirts bearing the words “Just Stop Oil,” the name of the activist group that has been leading many of the recent food-on-masterpieces climate protests, the action this morning was not sanctioned by them.
“This is not an action that Just Stop Oil in the UK have organized,” a representative of Just Stop Oil told Hyperallergic. “We applaud those ordinary everyday people who refuse to stand by, who step up to act. Our demand of ending new oil and gas is supported across the world. If we don’t stop the harm caused by burning fossil fuels there will be no one to look at the masterpieces that are on display in our museums.”
Today’s action is just the latest in a series of high-profile climate protests involving Europe’s most famous paintings and food. Earlier this week, two activists threw mashed potatoes on a Monet in Germany, and last week, two activists threw tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” (1888) in London. The high-profile actions have inspired an outpour of debate, confusion, think pieces, and conspiracy theories.
From art fairs to alternative spaces that may not be on your radar, here’s a run-down of what to see (and eat and sip) in Miami. No NFTs, we promise.
Protests are erupting across the country in response to President Xi Jinping’s strict zero-COVID policy.
Join the New-York Historical Society on December 9 for a virtual conversation with Kellie Jones, Rujeko Hockley, and Cameron Shaw on the past, present, and future of Black art in the US.
What does it mean when the world’s richest person trolls us?
Ghenie’s paintings of Marilyn Monroe are a relentless representation of a howling, turbulent tragedy, a face broken into crude sideways slewings and gougings and gorgings of paint.
The unique MFASA at the Institute of American Indian Arts offers mentorships with world-renowned Indigenous artists, flexible schedules, and access to one of the US’s cultural capitals.
What feels like the right way to write about Roman Catholicism, or Christian iconography, to most art critics is heavily influenced by museum discourse, which is far from neutral.
A group exhibition at the Americas Society investigates ideas of paradise, approaching the Caribbean region as a product of the visitor economy regime.
Visual artists who incorporate psychedelics into their practices maintain a foundational understanding that there is more to reality than meets the eye.
Many in the local Ukrainian community want the museum’s name to be changed to reflect the many artworks in its collection by artists from former Soviet states.