19 05 / 2023

Is damaging artworks a new trend of activism?

Throughout history, art has always been under attack, either by criminals or those who don’t understand its value and aim to destroy it. Last year, it was a viral topic in the art world as a bunch of climate activists showed up in certain internationally renowned art museums and performed an act known as ‘Civil Disobedience’ as they targeted art history’s greatest treasures in order to raise awareness about climate change. There are several famous world-famous works that were attacked by the activists. Here are amongst the works that became their target.

Sunflowers (1897) by Vincent van Gogh 

‘Sunflower’ is amongst the best-known series of works by a prominent artist, Vincent van Gogh. It is displayed at London’s National Gallery. On 14 October 2022, two climate activists splatter cans of tomato soup on the painting before gluing their hands and affixing them to the wall. However, the priceless ‘Sunflower’ painting was undamaged. Only the frame was slightly damaged by the soup.

Mona Lisa by Leonadro da Vinci 

If asked to name the world’s most popular painting, most people would likely refer to a portrait of a lady with a mysterious smile, recognized as the ‘Mona Lisa’. The painting is one of the masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, exhibited at the Louvre Museum, Paris. On 30 May 2022, a man dressed up as an old lady jumped out of a wheelchair and smashed cake on Mona Lisa before yelling, “There are people who are destroying the Earth”. Nevertheless, this was not the first time that the painting was attacked. So, the invaluable painting is secured in bullet-proof glass leading the work to be untouched by any attack attempts.

Girl With a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

A portrait of a woman tilting her head with a very large pearl earring is one of the world’s most recognizable paintings by a Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer. Currently, it is displayed at the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, the Netherlands. The incident took place on 27 October 2022 as one climate activist started to glue his head to the work’s protected surface and another to the wall. The third one poured tomato soup over his partner’s head. They shouted, “How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless apparently being destroyed before your eyes?”. Since the captivating is protected in glass, it was undamaged and was returned on display a day after the attack.

There are several masterpieces that were attacked by climate activists. The three masterpieces mentioned were barely untouched since they are considered the world’s greatest treasures resulting in the works being invaluable. Most of the masterpieces of the world will be displayed in a museum glass and protected with a high-security system in response to any risks that might damage the artworks.

On the other hand, not all artworks are protected with high-standard security systems like the world’s masterpieces. Each work of art contains more than just aesthetic value allowing it to be priceless and invaluable. However, there are so many risks involving the actual physicality of the artwork. Therefore, art insurance is vital to resolve risks that may occur to your work. Provided at JWD Art Space is “Fine Art Insurance” that covers your works of art throughout our services, whether they are in our storage, transporting, relocating or installing. With our art insurance, we can ensure that your priceless piece of fine art will be covered from any risks.

References: 

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/here-is-every-artwork-attacked-by-climate-activists-this-year-from-the-mona-lisa-to-girl-with-a-pearl-earring-2200804

https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine/art-insurance

https://www.chubb.com/sg-en/articles/personal/collecting-art-art-insurance.html

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