Watch: Tomato soup thrown at Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' by activists in London
The act was committed by ‘Just Stop Oil’ activists who have been protesting against fossil fuel extraction in London. The group has drawn attention, but also criticism, for targeting artworks in several museums.
Two cans of tomato soup were tossed all over Vincent Van Gogh’s famous ‘Sunflowers’ painting at London’s National Gallery by climate activists protesting against fossil fuel extraction. The group that calls itself ‘Just Stop Oil’, wants the British government to cease new oil and gas projects. ‘Sunflowers’ is one of Van Gogh's most iconic works.
London’s Metropolitan Police later said officers arrested two people on suspicion of criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
In a video doing rounds on social media platforms, two women wearing T-shirts with the slogan "Just Stop Oil" were seen lobbing cans of Heinz tomato soup on the Dutch artist's famous painting. Then they glued their hands to the wall and asked: “What is worth more, art or life?”
“Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?”
People can be heard in the background reacting to the incident as the soup trailed down the wall. “Oh my god,” one person can be heard saying, while another called for security.
The group later tweeted that the protest's message was to “choose life over art”. It also noted the painting has an estimated value of $84.2 million.
In July, Just Stop Oil activists glued themselves to the frame 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.
Activists have also blocked bridges and intersections across London in the recent protests over the past two weeks. The group has drawn attention, but also criticism, for targeting artworks in museums.
“They have thrown tomato soup on one of the most important paintings in the world, 'Sunflowers' by Van Gogh in protest against climate change they say. I hope they acclimatize their current accounts to pay for the damages,” wrote a Twitter user sharing the video of the vandalism.
The wave of demonstrations comes as the British government opens a new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas exploration, despite criticism from environmentalists and scientists who say the move undermines the country’s commitment to fighting climate change.