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 by movement ecologists in museums in recent years.
• Also read: In London, environmentalists attack a painting by Velázquez
“The work was not damaged,” the Louvre Museum told AFP, indicating that 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.
🇫🇷 Two environmental activists threw soup on the bulletproof glass that protected “The Mona Lisa” in the Louvre, justifying their action by saying that they particularly wanted to promote “the right to healthy and sustainable food.” #AFPTV ⤵️
— Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) January 28, 2024
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 then decided against it, partly because you can buy food there.
“The Mona Lisa, like our heritage, belongs to future generations. “No reason can justify him being targeted,” condemned Culture Minister Rachida Dati on X.
“I'm not sure 'The Mona Lisa' is the biggest polluter in France. What does that mean? », denounced Prisca Thévenot, government spokeswoman, on the France 3 television channel.
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 throwing at “The Mona Lisa” is presented as “the start of a campaign of civil resistance that carries 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 “Just Stop Oil” T-shirts 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: “What is it?” worth more, 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 “The Little Dancer of Fourteen” in Washington, or spread applesauce made from earth on a masterpiece in Potsdam Claude Monet, 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.