Climate Activist Vandalizes a Monet With an Apocalyptic Image

A protester was arrested on Saturday after plastering a poster over “Poppy Field” at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris

Poppy Field, Claude Monet, 1873
Poppy Field, Claude Monet, 1873 DeAgostini / Getty Images

What will the flowery pasture in Claude Monet’s famed 1873 painting Poppy Field look like in 2100? On Saturday, a climate activist illustrated a dystopian prediction to audiences at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

In a video uploaded to social media, the young woman is seen attaching a cloth poster depicting an “apocalyptic, futuristic vision of the same scene” to the Monet, per the Associated Press. She then glued her own hand to the wall beside the artwork.

“This nightmarish picture before us is what awaits us if no alternative is put into place,” she said in French. “At four degrees Celsius, we’re in for hell,” she added, referring to scientists’ predictions of how much global temperature could rise by the end of the century.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the woman was arrested on Saturday. “The exhibition is entirely accessible to the public again,” a museum spokesperson told the news agency, adding that Poppy Field is covered by glass and suffered no permanent damage.

The woman is a member of Riposte Alimentaire (French for “Food Response”), a French organization that stages protests focused on climate change and food security, often by targeting famous works of art in prominent museums.

In January, two environmental activists with the organization threw soup at the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s 16th-century masterpiece. The painting hangs behind protective glass at the Louvre in Paris and did not sustain any damage.

The group was also responsible for throwing soup at Springtime (1880), a Monet located at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon, in February. Last month, two activists with the group were arrested after plastering stickers that read “resisting is vital” around Eugène Delacroix’s recently restored 1830 painting Liberty Leading the People, which is on display at the Louvre.

The organization belongs to the A22 movement, a coalition of climate activism organizations like Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil responsible for similar disruptions.

In recent years, these groups have been vandalizing renowned artworks around the world in the name of climate activism. Protesters have been targeting works as iconic as Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893), which hangs at Norway’s National Museum, and Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring (circa 1665), which is held by the Mauritshuis museum in the Netherlands.

One of the most common methods of defacement is for activists to glue themselves to works of art. They also splatter paintings with food and paint. In most cases, targeted artworks have not sustained lasting damage.

The controversial movement has been met with a mixture of support and outrage. In January, following Riposte Alimentaire’s Mona Lisa soup stunt, the French culture minister Rachida Dati publicly condemned the activists. “The Mona Lisa, like our heritage, belongs to future generations,” she wrote in a social media post, per Google Translate. “No cause can justify [it] being targeted!”

“We love art,” Riposte Alimentaire has stated, according to AFP. “But future artists will have nothing to paint on a burning planet.”

Monet painted his famed Poppy Field in 1873, capturing a serene summer scene at his home in Argenteuil, a town in the northwestern suburbs of Paris. In the painting, a mother and child—likely the artist’s wife, Camille, and their son Jean, according to the Musée d’Orsay—stroll through a field dotted with red flowers.

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