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Activists throw soup at Monet painting in Lyon museum

Protesters hurled soup at a Monet painting on Saturday in a museum in southeast France, the latest action by a campaign group that pulled a similar stunt on the Mona Lisa last month. The Musee des Beaux-Arts in France’s third largest city said in a communique that the attack on Claude Monet’s “Le Printemps” (Spring) took place at 3:30 pm local time Saturday. The 1872 painting was protected by glass, but will still undergo a close inspection and restoration, the museum said. The museum said it would file a complaint for vandalism, adding that two activists were arrested. Riposte Alimentaire (“Food counterattack”) claimed the attack in a posting on X, with a woman identifying herself 20-year-old Ilona saying “we have to act now before it is too late.” The same group, which calls for a sustainable supply of healthy food for all, also claimed January’s soup attack on the Louvre museum’s Mona Lisa painting, which was also behind glass.

The two militants who carried out the attack on Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic work were condemned by a Paris court to carry out volunteer work for a charity association. Riposte Alimentaire calls itself a “French civil resistance movement which aims to spur a radical societal change for the environment and society”.

“We love art,” the movement says, “but future artists will have nothing to paint on a burning planet.” In a posting on X, Lyon’s mayor, who is from an ecological party, said he “regretted the action” but said that “in the face of climate emergencies, anguish is legitimate. We will respond with determined actions.”

It wasn’t the first time a Monet painting has been targeted by ecologist activists. In October 2022, protesters from the German branch of Last Generation flung mash at “Les Meules” (The Haystacks) in a museum in Potsdam. It too was protected by glass. In June 2023, activists in Stockholm smeared red paint and glued their hands to the glass covering of another of the French impressionist’s works, “The Artist’s Garden at Giverny”. — AFP

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