Painting Smackdown

Climate change activists throw food on paintings


Photo by Andrew Dykes

Just Stop Oil advocating to end fossil fuel

Throughout the month of October, there have been many climate change activists throwing food on paintings, such as tomato soup and mashed potatoes. Many of these acts of vandalism have come from a group called Just Stop Oil, an environmental activist group located in the United Kingdom, whose goal is to get the government to stop licensing and producing fossil fuels, according to

While these attacks have been going on since May, one of the more notable acts occurred on Oct. 14, 2022, when Just Stop Oil activists, Phoebe Plummer and Anna Holland, threw tomato soup on Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, “Sunflowers.” The painting was covered in glass so there was no harm to the painting itself. After throwing the soup, they proceeded to glue their hands on the wall and stated their purpose.

“What is worth more—art or life?,” Plummer said to the onlookers. “Is it worth more than food? Worth more than justice? Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting, or the protection of our planet and people? The cost of living crisis is part of the cost of the oil crisis. Fuel is unaffordable to millions of cold, hungry families. They can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup.”

This method of protest has been questioned by many. In contrast, this group has influenced other activists to do the same thing, whether they are a part of Just Stop Oil or a different group, according to

Nine days later, on Oct. 23, two activists from a group called Letzte Generation, located in Potsdam, Germany, threw buckets of mashed potatoes onto Claude Monet’s painting “Haystacks.” Like the Just Stop Oil activists, this group glued their hands to the wall and began their speech, which was looked down upon by many, even though the painting was not damaged, all according to

“People are starving, people are freezing, people are dying,” Letzte Generation activist Mirjam Hermann said in a Youtube clip. “We are in a climate catastrophe and all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting. I’m afraid because science tells us that we won’t be able to feed our families in 2050.”

One of the most recent attacks was on Oct. 30, where two more Letzte Generation activists, Caris Connell and Solvig Schinkoethe, glued their hands onto a dinosaur display at Berlin’s Natural History Museum, according to

“Unlike the dinosaurs, we hold our fate in our own hands,” Connell said to the bystanders. “Do we want to go extinct like the dinosaurs, or do we want to survive?”

All of these activists so far have been arrested, but this has not stopped others from continuing the trend, typically going after globally known paintings to gain more publicity, according to