Environmental activists in Vienna defaced Gustav Klimt’s 1915 painting ‘Death and Life’ with ‘black oily liquid’

Climate activists in Austria defaced a famous painting in a museum in Vienna on Tuesday, the latest in a string of such protests targeting precious works of art in a call to action against fossil fuels.

Members of an activist group called Last Generation posted photos and videos online Tuesday showing a protester pouring “black, oily liquid” on Gustav Klimt’s painting “Death and Life” at the Leopold Museum before security intervened. Another activist can be seen trying to glue himself to the protective barrier in front of the painting.

“New oil and gas drilling is a death sentence for humanity,” Last Generation tweeted after the stunt.

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Climate protesters dumped black liquid on the Gustav Klimt

Climate protesters dumped black liquid on Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life” painting on display at a museum in Vienna on Tuesday. “People who are still exploring and drilling for new oil and gas have blood on their hands – and no form of sponsorship will ever wash that blood off,” the activist group said. “There can be no fine art with dirty money!”
(Letzte Generation Austria)

The group is demanding laws lowering highway speed limits to 100 km/h (about 62 mph), which they say would save 460 million tons of CO2 a year in Austria and reduce noise and air pollution.

Last Generation staged the protest on a day when the public was given free admission to the museum for St. Leopold’s Day, at an event sponsored by OMV, an oil and gas company.

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A man is filming

A man films “Death and Life,” a painting by Gustav Klimt, at the Leopold Museum in Vienna, January 28, 2016.
(Vladimir Simicek/AFP via Getty Images)

“People who are still exploring and drilling for new oil and gas have blood on their hands – and no form of sponsorship will ever wash that blood off,” the activist group said. “There can be no fine art with dirty money!”

Climate activists from various groups have attempted to deface paintings and glue themselves to other works of art in museums across Europe in recent months. On November 11, radical environmental activists in Norway tried unsuccessfully to attach themselves to Edvard Munch’s 1889 painting “The Scream” at a museum in Oslo. Last month, two activists were arrested in London, England, after taking cans of tomato soup at the painting “Sunflowers”. ” by Vincent van Gogh had thrown.

Two protesters kneel after throwing soup at Vincent van Gogh's famous 1888 work

Two protesters kneel after throwing soup at Vincent van Gogh’s famous 1888 work “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London, October 14, 2022.
(Just put oil through AP)

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People watch Edvard Munch's

People view “The Scream” by Edvard Munch at the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway, January 13, 2019.
(Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix via AP, file)

Museum officials told reporters at a news conference that the museum had increased security after these recent attacks and that Klimt’s 1915 work “Death and Life” was unscathed by Tuesday’s protest.

“Fortunately, the artwork was not damaged. Nevertheless, we are shocked that the Leopold Museum was in the picture here,” museum director Hans-Peter Wipplinger said at a press conference, according to Reuters.

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While Wipplinger said the museum sympathized with the activists’ action, he condemned the protest and said Last Generation would be billed for the police deployment and cleanup, estimating the cost to be at least five figures in euros.

It is unclear whether the activists have been arrested.

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