Now the environmentalists are going after the “Mona Lisa.” Because of course they are. Just when you thought you couldn’t dislike these apocalyptic irritants anymore, now they’ve gone and pelted soup at another priceless artwork, the most famous artwork in the world no less, because they think their fever dreams about climate change are more important than ordinary people getting to marvel at da Vinci’s masterpiece.
Two activists from Riposte Alimentaire — France’s answer to JustStopOil, only with a particular interest in food policy — took their chance at the Louvre yesterday. After emptying a bottle of orange gloop on to the “Mona Lisa,” one of the women was captured on video shouting: “What is more important: art or the right to a healthy and sustainable diet?” They were blocked off by screens before being removed.
Thankfully, the painting wasn’t damaged. The “Mona Lisa” has been behind safety glass since the 1950s, after a vandal hurled acid at it. In 2009, a Russian woman — apparently upset by the rejection of her citizenship application — threw a mug at the painting, smashing only the mug. This isn’t the first time a climate nutter has had a go, either. In 2022, a young man disguised himself as an elderly woman, so he could get close enough to smear cake over the glass, all while shouting “think of the planet.”
This latest assault on the “Mona Lisa” speaks to the profound and increasingly violent philistinism of the climate movement. They think that their fever dreams about climate change are more important than ordinary people getting to marvel at da Vinci’s masterpiece. The similarity of this stunt to JustStopOil’s infamous assault on Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in 2022 is also no coincidence. As CNN reports, Riposte Alimentaire is part of the A22 Network, of which JSO is a leading member.
The climate cultists are so sure that the world is about to end they think almost any action, no matter how destructive, is justified. This dovetails with the broader assault on western civilization, that rejects great art as little more than the doodlings of “dead white European males.”
The climate movement is up to its neck in “woke” identity politics. Extinction Rebellion’s Stuart Basden has gone as far as to say the group he co-founded “isn’t about the climate.” Climate change, he says, is merely one “symptom of a toxic system” — of a European “civilization” (his scare quotes) supposedly defined by white supremacy, patriarchy, Eurocentrism, et cetera.
Those saying this is all a fuss over nothing, because all these protesters have achieved is to temporarily grubby some glass, seem to me naive. Not least because eco-activists have already succeeded in damaging precious artworks. In 2022, two JustStopOilers inflicted more than £1,000 worth of damage on John Constable’s “The Hay Wain,” after they taped posters to the canvas and glued themselves to the frame.
When these greens fling things at great works of art their aim, I suppose, is to expose our decadence. Why are we peering at pretty pictures while the world is supposedly “on fire?” Or as one protester said after she had emptied her tin on “Sunflowers”: “What is worth more? Art or life?” (We can’t have both, apparently.)
But there is nothing more decadent than these supple-handed kids of privilege desecrating great artworks while demanding that we bring an end to the modern industrial society on which their own plush lives depend. It’s also comically out of touch that those Louvre protesters are agitating against eco-unfriendly farming practices, all while French farmers are taking to the streets of Paris to oppose the green regulations that are making their lives intolerable.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.