Climate Activists Throw Mashed Potato on Monet Painting

Monet's "Les Meules" is the second victim of a food-fight between climate activists and art.


Claude Monet’s “Haystacks” (Les Meules) is the latest victim of a series of food-related climate protests, with mashed potato being thrown at the painting by two activists inside the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, before the two proceeded to glue themselves to the wall beneath the artwork.

Sold at auction for a record $110m in 2019, “Haystacks” was painted in 1890 by the esteemed French Impressionist artist Claude Monet, and is part of a series of oil paintings featuring harvested wheat from the landscape surrounding the artist’s home in Giverny.

Via a Twitter statement released by the Museum shortly thereafter, it was confirmed that conservation investigations showed no damage to the painting due to the glass protection. German climate activist group “Letze Generation” (Last Generation) claim responsibility for the incident, and released video and written statements to accompany the protest, in which they stated;

“What is worth more, art or life? More and more people are refusing to accept the progressive destruction and endangerment of human life on earth".

The group went on to state that the painting was not damaged in the process;
“Quite in contrast to the immeasurable suffering that floods, storms and droughts are already bringing upon us today as harbingers of the impending catastrophe”.

This latest art-related protest comes only shortly after tomato soup was thrown at van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” by Just Stop Oil activists at the National Gallery in London on October 14th. The introduction of food substances being thrown at the paintings is a step up from a series of incidents involving activists glueing themselves to art, including Italian environmental group Ultima Generazione targeting the Vatican on August 18th, and Extinction Rebellion protestors glueing themselves to a Picasso in Melbourne on October 9th.

The response by the media and government to these two incidents has been monumental, with many flocking to social media platforms to express horror, disgust and condemnation towards the actions – some expressing concern for the condition of the artwork, others labelling the protests as misguided and foolish.

For this, “Letze Generation” also had a response; “Monet loved nature and captured its unique and fragile beauty in his works. How is it that so many are more afraid of damaging one of these images than of the destruction of the world itself, the magic of which Monet admired so much?”