Climate activists have thrown mashed potatoes at a painting by Claude Monet hanging in a German gallery in protest against the continued use of fossil fuels in the country.
Two protestors representing the Letzte Generation (Last Generation) protest group, which has called on the German government to take drastic action to protect the climate and stop using fossil fuels, advanced on the impressionist’s work ‘Les Meules’ (Haystacks) at Potsdam’s Barberini Museum, before dousing the painting and its gold frame in a viscous, yellow-looking substance.
The group later confirmed on Twitter that the mixture was mashed potatoes.
“If it takes a painting – with #MashedPotatoes or #TomatoSoup thrown at it – to make society remember that the fossil fuel course is killing us all: Then we’ll give you #MashedPotatoes on a painting!” a social media post shared by the group read, along with a video of the incident.
The two activists, donning orange high-visibility vests, also glued themselves to the wall below the painting, while one of the pair delivered a statement.
“People are starving, people are freezing, people are dying. We are in a climate catastrophe. And the only thing you’re afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting,” the woman said.
“Do you know what I’m afraid of? That science say that we will not be able to feed our families in 2050. Does it take mashed potatoes on a painting to make you listen? This painting will be worth nothing when we are fighting over food. When is the point that you will finally listen and not just carry on as before?”
In total, four people were involved in the incident, according to German news agency dpa.
Later on Sunday, a spokesperson for the Barberini Museum said that because the painting was enclosed in glass, the mashed potatoes did not cause any damage.
The painting, part of Monet‘s Haystacks series, is expected to be return to the collection for display on Wednesday.
“While I understand the activists’ urgent concern in the face of the climate catastrophe, I am shocked by the means with which they are trying to lend weight to their demands,” museum director Ortrud Westheider said in a statement.
Police told dpa they had responded to the incident, but further information about arrests or charges was not immediately available.
The Monet painting is the latest artwork in a museum to be targeted by climate activists to draw attention to global warming.
It comes after Just Stop Oil, an anti-fossil fuel group based in the UK, threw tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ in London’s National Gallery earlier this month.
Just Stop Oil activists also glued themselves to the frame of an early copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, and to John Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’ in the National Gallery.