Two activists doused the bulletproof glass protecting the Mona Lisa in Paris with soup on Sunday morning, adding their action – which did no damage to the masterpiece – to the list of actions carried out in museums by environmental movements in recent years.
“The work was not damaged,” the Louvre Museum told AFP, saying the Salle des Estates, where the painting is on display, had reopened to visitors after being closed for about an hour. The largest museum in the world plans to file a complaint on Monday.
“What is important?” What is more important? Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food? Our agricultural system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work. “One in three French people does not eat all their meals every day,” declared the activists, who stood on either side of the table after throwing away the soup, an AFP journalist noted.
They were then arrested, AFP learned from police circles. According to the Louvre, they had hidden the pumpkin soup in a coffee thermos. The food is accepted at the entrance to the restaurant.
The museum has experimented with banning food entry in the past, but has given up on it, particularly because there is an option to purchase it inside.
“The Mona Lisa, like our heritage, belongs to future generations. “No reason can justify him being targeted,” condemned Culture Minister Rachida Dati on X.
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The famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, which has been presented behind armored protective glass since 2005, has been the victim of vandalism several times. In May 2022, for example, he became the target of a cream cake.
A series of militant operations
The action was claimed this time in a press release sent to AFP by a collective called “Riposte Alimentaire” and presented itself as “a French civil resistance campaign aimed at bringing about a radical change in society in terms of climate and social issues.” .
It “follows on from the last renovation campaign,” which has called for several strong measures in recent months to “demand a thermal renovation plan for buildings that responds to the emergency.”
This time, the soup being thrown at the Mona Lisa is presented as “the start of a campaign of civil resistance that brings with it a clear demand that benefits everyone: social security for sustainable food.”
For several years, a series of militant operations have targeted works in museums around the world.
In October 2022, two young women wearing T-shirts that read “Just Stop Oil” projected the contents of two cans of tomato soup onto Van Gogh's masterpiece “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London before pressing themselves against the wall and shouting: ” Which is “More Valuable: Art or Life?” »
This painting was also protected by glass.
In other museums, activists stuck their hands on a Goya painting in Madrid, smeared red and black paint on the Plexiglas cage surrounding Degas's “Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer” in Washington, or spread mashed potatoes on a Claude Monet masterpiece in Potsdam, near Berlin.
More broadly, civil disobedience movements have also recently disrupted sporting events or blocked traffic in Western countries to denounce inaction by governments and the business community.