‘What’s worth more, art or life?’ - Climate activists throw mashed potatoes over £96m Monet painting

The painting was completed in 1890 and estimated to be worth around £96m

Climate activists threw mashed potatoes over a Monet painting at an art gallery in Germany, asking shocked onlookers:”Is this what it takes to make you listen?”. The incident broke out at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, where Monet’s Les Meules is on display, on Sunday afternoon.

It saw two young demonstrators from the Letzte Generation (Last Generation) throw mashed potato over the artwork before kneeling in front of it and shouting to visitors. Activist Mirjam Hermann gave a speech as she crouched in front of the painting, which was completed in 1890 and estimated to be worth around £96m.

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The 25-year-old said: “People are starving, people are freezing, people are dying. We are in a climate catastrophe. And all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting. Do you know what I’m afraid of? I’m afraid because science tells us we won’t be able to feed our families in 2050. Does it take mashed potatoes on a painting to make you listen?

“This painting is not going to be worth anything if we have to fight for food. When will you finally start to listen? When will you finally start to listen and stop business as usual?”

It is not known if the painting has been damaged or if it was shielded behind protective glass. The incident comes after two activists from Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at London’s National Gallery last week.

In a statement on their website, Letzte Generation dubbed the act ‘courageous’ before outlining why they had attempted to ruin another famous painting. Aimée van Baalen, a spokesperson for the group, said: ”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 of reality than of the destruction of our world itself, the magic of which Monet admired so much? We must not lose ourselves in the idyll on the big screen, but must face reality. There will be no time to admire art when we fight for food and water.”

According to the group’s Twitter, the two activists involved were arrested and later released.

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