Environmental activists spray The Mona Lisa soup in the Louvre

France: Environmental activists sprinkle soup on the window pane in front of “The Mona Lisa” without damaging it

Two activists splashed soup onto the protective bulletproof glass The mona LIsa in Paris 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.

• 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 appeared on 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 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?” For her part, government spokeswoman Prisca Thévenot denounced the matter 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 the Last Renovation campaign,” which has called for several strong actions in recent months to “demand a thermal renovation plan for buildings that meets the urgency.”

This time the soup being thrown at the Mona Lisa is presented as “the prelude”. [d’une] Civil resistance campaign that carries a clear demand that benefits everyone: social security for sustainable nutrition.

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 more is worth.”, 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.