Climate activists hurled soup at the iconic Mona Lisa painting in Paris’s Louvre Museum. This audacious act raises critical questions about the intersection of art, activism, and environmental concerns.
Art Meets Activism
On a calm Sunday morning in Paris, the world-renowned Mona Lisa witnessed an unusual event. Two climate activists bypassed security barriers and threw soup at Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece. They wore t-shirts bearing the name ‘Riposte Alimentaire,’ pointing to their affiliation with a climate activist group. Fortunately, the painting remained unscathed, protected by a glass barrier.
This incident followed several days of protests by French farmers, drawing a global spotlight. The activists’ bold move stirred a pressing debate: What matters more, our artistic heritage or the right to sustainable food?
A Shielded Masterpiece
Immediately after the incident, museum staff rushed to shield the painting with black screens, prompting visitors to leave the room. The Riposte Alimentaire group later claimed that two of their members responsible for the act are part of their new campaign.
The Mona Lisa, no stranger to such acts, was smeared with cake in May 2022. The perpetrator, feigning disability, voiced concerns for the planet upon being escorted out by security.
A Pattern of Protest
This event is part of a growing trend where famous artworks become focal points for environmental protests. In October 2022, Just Stop Oil activists in London targeted Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with tomato juice and glued themselves to a copy of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. That same month, two activists attached themselves to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring in The Hague, while others doused Monet’s $110 million Haystacks with mashed potatoes in Germany.
The trend continued with Ultima Generazione activists in Rome throwing vegetable soup on Van Gogh’s Sower in November. By June 2023, Aterstall Vatmarker activists had vandalized a Claude Monet painting in Stockholm with red paint, and in November 2023, Just Stop Oil members hammered the glass protecting a 17th-century Velázquez painting in London’s National Gallery.