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Activists throw dye over Gustav Klimt masterpiece at Austrian museum in latest protest

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Climate activists in Austria today poured a black, oily liquid over Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece ‘Death and Life’ at Vienna’s Leopold Museum.

Two members of the group ‘Last Generation’ threw the dye over the 1915 painting before one proceeded to glue himself to the glass protecting the masterpiece.

A security guard at the museum managed to restrain one of the activists before police arrived at the site.

Museum staff are now concerned that Klimt’s painting could have been damaged in the protest. 

‘Restorers are working to determine whether the painting protected by glass has been damaged,’ the museum’s spokesman Klaus Pokorny said. 

The ‘Last Generation’ group defended the protest, saying in a tweet that they were protesting ‘oil and gas drilling,’ which they called ‘a death sentence to society.’ 

Numerous masterpieces across Europe have been attacked in recent weeks in protests at the lack of action against climate change. 

Climate activists on Tuesday poured a black liquid over Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece ‘Death and Life’ at Vienna’s Leopold Museum, a spokesman told AFP

A security guard restrains one of the climate activists after they threw paint on the famous masterpiece

A security guard restrains one of the climate activists after they threw paint on the famous masterpiece

In footage shared by the group on social media two men can be seen pouring a black, oily liquid on the famous Klimt painting

In footage shared by the group on social media two men can be seen pouring a black, oily liquid on the famous Klimt painting

A file picture of Klimt's 'Death and Life' painting before climate activists in poured a black, oily liquid over painting

A file picture of Klimt’s ‘Death and Life’ painting before climate activists in poured a black, oily liquid over painting 

Who was Gustav Klimt? 

Gustav Klimt was an Austrian painter best known for his decorative, erotic paintings of the female body. 

His most famous works, The Kiss and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, were painted between 1907 and 1908. 

Gustav was born in Vienna in 1862 and at the age of 14, he was awarded a scholarship to the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts.

Gustav later excelled in the artworld and opened an art studio with his brother Ernst Klimt.

The artist’s work was marked by erotic paintings of the female body, making him the subject of controversy in a conservative society. 

Klimt began painting his final masterpiece ‘The Bride’ in 1917, months before he suffered a stroke at the age of 55. He died a year later. 

In footage shared by the group on social media two men can be seen pouring a black, oily liquid on the famous Klimt painting.  

One of the activists can be heard shouting that ‘we have known about the problem for 50 years – we must finally act, otherwise the planet will be broken.’ 

‘Stop the fossil fuel destruction. We are racing into a climate hell,’ he added.

After the attack, police arrived at the museum and the black liquid was quickly cleaned off the glass protecting the painting, Austria Press Agency reported.

Despite thorough controls at the Leopold Museum’s entrance, the activists succeeded in bringing the liquid inside by hiding it in a hot water bottle under their clothes, the agency reported.

Admission to the Leopold Museum was free on Tuesday as part of a day sponsored by the Austrian oil and gas group OMV. 

The Klimt work is an oil on canvas painting in the Art Nouveau style depicting death on the left side and a group of partially naked, hugging people on the right side.

It’s one of the latest pieces of art to be targeted by climate activists to draw attention to global warming.

Different activist groups have staged numerous demonstrations in recent months, including blocking streets and throwing mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in Germany. 

A climate activist of the "Last Generation" group who has glued himself to the painting "Death and Life" by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt after pouring a black liquid on the art work at the Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria

A climate activist of the ‘Last Generation’ group who has glued himself to the painting ‘Death and Life’ by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt after pouring a black liquid on the art work at the Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria

Two members of the group 'Last Generation' threw the dye over the 1915 painting before one proceeded to glue himself to the glass protecting the masterpiece

Two members of the group ‘Last Generation’ threw the dye over the 1915 painting before one proceeded to glue himself to the glass protecting the masterpiece

A security guard at the museum managed to restrain one of the activists before police arrived at the site

A security guard at the museum managed to restrain one of the activists before police arrived at the site

The British group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ in London’s National Gallery last month.

Just Stop Oil activists also glued themselves to the frame of an early copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, and to John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” in the National Gallery.

A group of activists also threw pea soup onto a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece in Rome, in a protest they warned will continue until more attention was paid to climate change.

‘The Sower’, an 1888 painting by the Dutch artist depicting a farmer sowing his land under a dominating sun, was exhibited behind glass and undamaged.

A pair of demonstrators glued themselves to the floor after throwing soup on Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' at the National Gallery in London in October

A pair of demonstrators glued themselves to the floor after throwing soup on Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ at the National Gallery in London in October

One of the protestors said after the stunt: 'What is worth more, art or life?' before they glued themselves to the wall

One of the protestors said after the stunt: ‘What is worth more, art or life?’ before they glued themselves to the wall 

The £76 million piece of art was 'unharmed' during the climate demonstration on October 14

The £76 million piece of art was ‘unharmed’ during the climate demonstration on October 14

Security intervened immediately and removed the protesters kneeling in front of ‘The Sower’ at the Palazzo Bonaparte. Protesters from the same group, the Last Generation, earlier blocked a highway near Rome.

The climate activists from Last Generation called their protest ‘a desperate and scientifically grounded cry that cannot be understood as mere vandalism’.

‘Non-violent direct actions will continue until citizens get answers from their government on the demands to stop gas and coal and to invest in at least 20 GW of renewables,’ they said in a statement.

In a separate protest, two female activists glued themselves to the frames of two paintings by Spanish artist Francisco de Goya at Madrid’s Prado Museum. 

The pair scrawled the message +1.5 degrees Celsius between the paintings they targeted – the Naked Maja and the Clothed Maja – a reference to the damaging differences to the planet which will be seen at two degrees as opposed to 1.5.

In the wake of the protests, dozens of the world’s top museums issued a joint declaration last week saying environmental activists who attack paintings ‘severely underestimate’ the damage that could be caused.

The two young women are raising awareness of the importance of sticking to the 1.5C limit to global warming, agreed at the Paris summit

Two female activists glued themselves to the frames of two paintings by Spanish artist Francisco de Goya at Madrid's Prado Museum

Two female activists glued themselves to the frames of two paintings by Spanish artist Francisco de Goya at Madrid’s Prado Museum

The statement was spearheaded by the Prado in Madrid, and signed by the directors of more than 90 world-renowned museums including the Guggenheim in New York, Louvre in Paris and Uffizi in Florence.

Earlier this month, climate change activists blocked aircraft from leaving Amsterdam for hours by sitting in front of the wheels, while Spanish zealots glued themselves to the frames of two Francisco de Goya paintings in a Madrid museum.  

Environmental activists wearing white overalls stormed an area holding private jets at Schiphol Airport, located southwest of the capital, before military police moved in and were seen taking dozens of the protesters away in buses. 

More than 100 activists were arrested, national broadcaster NOS said, but no delays to commercial flights were reported.

The protest was part of a day of demonstrations in and around the air hub organised by Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion in the build-up to the COP27 climate talks in Egypt. 

‘We want fewer flights, more trains and a ban on unnecessary short-haul flights and private jets,’ Greenpeace Netherlands campaign leader Dewi Zloch said. 

Footage of the moment a furious passer-by jostled with a climate activist as they doused the front of the MI5 building on Marsham Street in Westminster on 31 October

Footage of the moment a furious passer-by jostled with a climate activist as they doused the front of the MI5 building on Marsham Street in Westminster on 31 October

The headquarters of News Corp - which owns publications including The Sun, The Times and TalkTV - in London Bridge was also targeted by protesters. It is the second time the building has been vandalised this year by eco-activists

The headquarters of News Corp – which owns publications including The Sun, The Times and TalkTV – in London Bridge was also targeted by protesters. It is the second time the building has been vandalised this year by eco-activists 

The environmental group says Schiphol is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the Netherlands, emitting 12 billion kilograms annually. 

Hundreds of other demonstrators in and around the airport’s main hall carried signs saying ‘Restrict Aviation’ and ‘More Trains’. 

Responding to the protest, Schiphol said it aims to become an emissions-free airport by 2030 and supports targets for the aviation industry to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

Military police tasked with airport security said in a statement they had ‘made a number of detentions of persons who were on airport property without being allowed’. 

The Dutch government announced plans in June for a cap on annual passengers at the airport at 440,000, around 11 per cent below 2019 levels, citing air pollution and climate concerns. 

Transportation Minister Mark Harbers told parliament last month his office could not control growing private jet traffic and the government is considering whether to include the issue in its climate policy. 

Environmental activists wearing white overalls stormed an area holding private jets at Schiphol Airport, located southwest of the capital, before military police moved in and were seen taking dozens of the protesters away in buses

Environmental activists wearing white overalls stormed an area holding private jets at Schiphol Airport, located southwest of the capital, before military police moved in and were seen taking dozens of the protesters away in buses

More than 100 activists were arrested, national broadcaster NOS said, but no delays to commercial flights were reported

More than 100 activists were arrested, national broadcaster NOS said, but no delays to commercial flights were reported

The protest was part of a day of demonstrations in and around the air hub organised by Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion in the build-up to the COP27 climate talks in Egypt

The protest was part of a day of demonstrations in and around the air hub organised by Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion in the build-up to the COP27 climate talks in Egypt

The environmental group says Schiphol is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the Netherlands, emitting 12 billion kilograms annually

The environmental group says Schiphol is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the Netherlands, emitting 12 billion kilograms annually

Hundreds of other demonstrators in and around the airport's main hall carried signs saying 'Restrict Aviation' and 'More Trains'

Hundreds of other demonstrators in and around the airport’s main hall carried signs saying ‘Restrict Aviation’ and ‘More Trains’

Responding to the protest, Schiphol said it aims to become an emissions-free airport by 2030 and supports targets for the aviation industry to reach net zero emissions by 2050

Responding to the protest, Schiphol said it aims to become an emissions-free airport by 2030 and supports targets for the aviation industry to reach net zero emissions by 2050

Earlier this month, eco protesters sat down in the motorway in Rome and blocked drivers from getting to work.  

Italian police officers were called to the scene and dragged the eco-protesters off the motorway after they brought travel chaos to Rome.

A stony-faced eco mob ignored drivers' pleas to let them pass after they sat down in the middle of a motorway in Rome

A stony-faced eco mob ignored drivers’ pleas to let them pass after they sat down in the middle of a motorway in Rome

Around ten eco-protesters from the Ultima Generaizione - Last Generation - group blocked the Grande Raccordo Anulare motorway in Rome this morning for around half an hour

Around ten eco-protesters from the Ultima Generaizione – Last Generation – group blocked the Grande Raccordo Anulare motorway in Rome this morning for around half an hour

Italian police officers were called to the scene and dragged the eco-protesters off the motorway after they brought travel chaos to Rome - days after protesters blocked roads across the Italian capital.

Italian police officers were called to the scene and dragged the eco-protesters off the motorway after they brought travel chaos to Rome - days after protesters blocked roads across the Italian capital.

Italian police officers were called to the scene and dragged the eco-protesters off the motorway after they brought travel chaos to Rome – days after protesters blocked roads across the Italian capital

Just days earlier, protesters sat in the middle of the Via Guglielmo Marcon in Rome holding banners aloft as part of Ultima Generazione, Italian for Last Generation, demonstrations.

The ‘civil disobedience’ movement was borne from Extinction Rebellion and the independent ‘Ultima Generazioneâ’ last year.

The protesters are demanding that disused coal plants be reopened and calling for a halt to a new drilling project for the research into and extraction of natural gas.

A furious driver is pictured confronting a protester holding a banner while blocking one of the busiest roads in Rome on October 31

A furious driver is pictured confronting a protester holding a banner while blocking one of the busiest roads in Rome on October 31

A protester sits with her hands aloft as a car tries to drive around a group of eco-zealots blocking the road on October 31

A protester sits with her hands aloft as a car tries to drive around a group of eco-zealots blocking the road on October 31

'Ultima Generazione' demands the reopening of disused coal plants and cancel the project of new drilling for the research and extraction of natural gas

‘Ultima Generazione’ demands the reopening of disused coal plants and cancel the project of new drilling for the research and extraction of natural gas

 

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