Art Vandalism – A Statement or a Crime?


Sophia Schiappa, Photography Editor

In recent weeks, several famous works of art have been the target of vandalism by climate change activists in numerous different art museums such as London’s National Gallery, the National Art Gallery of Australia, and the infamous Louvre in Paris.

In an effort to bring awareness to the impending usage of fossil fuels, two activists from the Just Stop Oil threw cans of tomato soup on Van Gogh’s painting, Sunflowers, and glued themselves to the walls of the National Gallery in London. Bystanders gasped and called for security. 21-year-old Phoebe Plummer and 20-year-old Anna Holland were arrested on charges of criminal damage and aggravated trespass. The painting itself was not harmed because of its protective glass, however, the frame sustained minimal damages. 

Similarly, protesters in Australia spray painted Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans to also advocate against the use of fossil fuel. Stop Fossil Fuels Subsidies, an environmental activist group, took responsibility for the attack. No arrests have been made, but the gallery discourages the defacement of any works of art. 

Similarly, the Mona Lisa by Vincent van Gogh in Paris had cake smeared across it by a man dressed as an elderly woman in a wheelchair. Like Plummer and Holland, the man wanted to advocate towards the dangers of climate change, and how artists disregard the problem of climate change. The 36-year-old man was taken into custody and put under psychiatric care. 

Each work of art has been properly restored to its original form.