Two demonstrators were arrested in London’s National Gallery on Friday after throwing canned tomato soup at one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, as part of a protest against fossil fuels.
The protestors, wearing T-shirts from the Just Stop Oil movements, threw the contents of two cans of Heinz Tomato soup over the famed 1888 work Sunflowers shortly after 11 AM on Friday, before kneeling down in front of the painting and appearing to glue their hands to the wall beneath it.
Visitors could be heard screaming, “Oh my gosh!”
Tomato soup covered the image, which is covered by glass, as well as parts of the golden frame. Visitors were then escorted out by security, who shut the doors to room 43 of the gallery where the painting hangs.
One of the activists, 21-year-old Phoebe Plummer from London, said in front of the painting: “What is worth more, art or life? Is it worth more than food? Worth more than justice?
“Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting, or the protection of our planet and people? The cost of living crisis is part of the cost of oil crisis.”
The National Gallery said: “At just after 11AM this morning, two people entered Room 43 of the National Gallery. The pair appeared to glue themselves to the wall adjacent to Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888). They also threw a red substance – what appears to be tomato soup – over the painting.
“The room was cleared of visitors and police were called. Officers are now on the scene. There is some minor damage to the frame but the painting is unharmed.”
London’s Metropolitan Police said: “Officers were rapidly on scene at the National Gallery this morning after two Just Stop Oil protesters threw a substance over a painting and then glued themselves to a wall.
“Both have been arrested for criminal damage and aggravated trespassing. Officers are now debonding them.”
Just Stop Oil tweeted directly after the event: “Human creativity and brilliance is on show in this gallery, yet our heritage is being destroyed by our Government’s failure to act on the climate and cost of living crisis …
“Thanks to skyrocketing gas prices, millions of British families won’t be able to afford to heat a can of soup this winter.
“The 100 proposed oil and gas licenses will destroy all of our culture, along with human civilization as we know it. Why are we protecting these paintings when we are not protecting the millions of lives that will be lost due to climate and societal collapse?”
🥫 JUST STOP OIL SUPPORTERS CHOOSE LIFE OVER ART 🥫— Just Stop Oil ⚖️💀🛢 (@JustStop_Oil) October 14, 2022
🎨 Human creativity and brilliance is on show in this gallery, yet our heritage is being destroyed by our Government’s failure to act on the climate and cost of living crisis.#VanGogh #FreeLouis #FreeJosh #CivilResistance pic.twitter.com/gXXGLsi0ej
Original Article Protestors with Just Stop Oil have targeted numerous works in art museums
Painted in Arles in the south of France in August 1888, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting shows 15 sunflowers standing in a yellow pot against a yellow background.
Sunflowers is the second, more famous, Van Gogh painting to be targeted by the group, with two climate activists gluing also themselves to his 1889 Peach Trees in Blossom, exhibited at the Courtauld Gallery, at the end of June. They are accused of causing nearly $2,500 of damage to the painting’s frame.
The work is also the second from the National Gallery to be selected as a target for protest action by Just Stop Oil, with two supporters gluing themselves to John Constable’s The Hay Wain on July 4. They had attached their own “reimagined version” to the portrait, before gluing themselves to the frame.