“Conservators are working to determine whether the painting, which is protected by glass, has been damaged,” a museum spokesman said.
Well-known environmental activists in Austria today poured a black liquid over Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece “Death and Life” at Vienna’s Leopold Museum.
Two members of the Last Generation group threw black paint over the 1915 painting. A museum security guard managed to restrain one of the activists before the police arrived.
Museum staff are now concerned that the Klimt painting could have been damaged during the protest.
“Conservators are working to determine whether the glass-protected painting has been damaged,” museum spokesman Klaus Pokorny said.
The group Last Generation defended the protest, saying in a tweet that it was protesting oil and gas drilling, which it called “society’s death sentence.”
🛢️EILT: Klimt’s “Tod und Leben” im Leopold Museum mit Öl überschüttet🛢️
Menschen der Letzten Generation haben heute im Leopold Museum das Klimt-Gemälde “Tod und Leben” mit Öl überschüttet. New oil and gas drilling are a fatal fate for mankind. pic.twitter.com/4QKAklB9Af
— Letzte Generation Österreich (@letztegenAT) November 15, 2022
Many masterpieces across Europe have come under attack in recent weeks in protest at the lack of action on climate change.
Footage, shared by the group on social media, shows two men pouring a black liquid on Klimt’s famous painting.
One of the activists can be heard shouting that “we’ve known about the problem for 50 years – we must finally act or the planet will be destroyed”.
“Stop the destruction of fossil fuels. We are heading for climate hell,” he added.
After the attack, police arrived at the museum and the black paint was quickly cleaned from the glass protecting the painting, the Austrian News Agency reported.
Despite thorough checks at the entrance to the Leopold Museum, the activists managed to carry the paint inside, hiding it in a thermos under their clothes, the agency said.
Entry to the Leopold Museum was free on Tuesday as part of a day sponsored by Austrian oil and gas group OMV.
Various activist groups have staged numerous protests in recent months, including blocking roads and throwing mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in Germany.
British group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London last month.
In the wake of the protests, dozens of the world’s top museums issued a joint statement last week saying that activists attacking paintings “severely underestimate” the damage that can be caused.
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