Climate activists hurl mashed potatoes at Monet painting in Germany

Potsdam, Germany - Two climate activists from the Last Generation movement flung mashed potatoes on a valuable painting by French impressionist Claude Monet at a museum in the German city of Potsdam, just outside Berlin.

Two Last Generation activists throw mashed potatoes on a painting by Claude Monet at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany.
Two Last Generation activists throw mashed potatoes on a painting by Claude Monet at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany.  © Collage: Screenshots/Twitter/AufstandLastGen

The painting from Monet's Les Meules (Haystacks) series sustained no damage and should be back on display on Wednesday, the Museum Barberini said late Sunday.

Museum spokesperson Carolin Stranz said the splattered potatoes were quickly removed and the painting was protected by a glass pane.

The two activists wearing high visibility orange vests also glued themselves to the floor, with a total of four people involved in the Sunday afternoon protest.

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Police spokesperson Mario Heinemann said officers took two people into custody at the museum, which specializes in impressionist paintings. They are being investigated for trespassing and damage to property.

Last Generation published a video of the attack on Twitter, saying the substance thrown at the painting had been potato purée and calling on politicians to take drastic measures to limit climate change.

"We make this Monet the stage and the public the audience. If it takes a painting – with mashed potatoes or tomato soup thrown at it – to make society remember that the fossil fuel course is killing us all: Then we'll give you mashed potatoes on a painting!"

Climate activists seem to have developed a liking for foods for their actions, with two demonstrators, albeit from a different movement, arrested in London about a week ago after throwing tomato soup on Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

Only the frame sustained slight damage, as the image in London's National Gallery was covered by glass.

Museum director speaks out

The painting from Monet's series Haystacks hangs in the permanent exhibition of the Museum Barberini from the collection of the founder and multi-billionaire Hasso Plattner.

A few days ago, there were indications that environmental activists could carry out an action in the Barberini, Stranz said. However, security personnel at the time were able to prevent this. She did not provide further details.

Museum director Ortrud Westheider said: "With all understanding for the urgent concern of the activists in the face of climate catastrophe, I am shocked by the means with which they seek to lend weight to their demands. It is in the works of the impressionists that we see the intense artistic engagement with nature."

Such landscape paintings could also give visitors an impetus to "reflect on and question their relationship to the environment."

Cover photo: Collage: Screenshots/Twitter/AufstandLastGen

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