Oh No Not the Van Gogh!


It has now become a so-called trend to throw soup and mashed potatoes onto beautiful art pieces. Climate change activists in Europe are protesting against their government’s use of fossil fuels, as it is contributing to global warming. 

A Time article “Why the Van Gogh Protest Wasn’t Smart” stated an unidentified member of the activist group named Just Stop Oil yelled “Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?” to a confused crowd in London’s National Gallery; after throwing tomato soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s classic painting Sunflowers. It is important to note that the painting remained undamaged, as it had a glass protector over it. However, there are other ways to bring attention to climate change rather than attempting to harm historic artwork. There is an irony in bringing awareness to the destruction of our planet by destroying beautiful artwork. 

The Van Gough painting is not the only piece of artwork being targeted by climate change activists. Mashed potatoes were thrown on Claude Monet’s 1890 Grainstacks, another historic piece of artwork that is being disrespected by activists. “Climate Activists Throw Mashed Potatoes on Monet Painting,” an article by the New York Times reported, “Videos show the activists dousing one of the artist’s works, ‘Grainstacks,’ with a thick yellow substance that covered the painting’s warm red hues.” The painting was left unharmed yet the action of throwing substances at it is disrespectful.

There is no question that climate change is a severe issue as it is harming our planet day by day. The sea level is continuing to rise, the global temperature is increasing rapidly, and the carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere are climbing to a concerning number. These are all very concerning events that are dramatically impacting our planet. As fossil fuels contribute to more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions, it is important people take action. However, throwing soup and paint at historic pieces of artwork made in the late 1800s is not the correct way to spread the word nor is it going to inspire more people to help. 

The “Just Stop Oil ” activists were arrested and charged with criminal damage and aggravated trespass according to an article made by ARTnews. The New York Times article reported the activists who threw mashed potatoes at the Monet painting were unidentified and taken to jail. 

All these specific activists did was harm their reputation and lose respect. Van Gogh and Claude Monet were most likely not using oil paint to harm the environment in the late 1800s. As a matter of fact, climate change was not even discovered till 1938, way after these paintings were made. These brilliant artists made historic oil paintings with no bad intentions for our environment. 

Climate change activists have the right intentions but are not projecting them in the right way. Activists should be focusing on progressive solutions to the issue rather than wasting time by throwing potatoes and soup. There are other ways to bring awareness to climate change, and ruining artwork is not one of them.