Stop ‘counterproductive’ attacks on famous paintings, says art world

Art world professionals have slammed recent attacks on famous paintings by climate protesters as "counterproductive" and dangerous acts of vandalism.

While some of the major French and British museums interviewed by AFP, including the Louvre, the National Gallery and the Tate in London, are keeping a low profile on the issue, others are calling for stronger protective measures against such acts.

"Art is defenseless and we strongly condemn trying to damage it for whichever cause," the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague said in a statement.

It was in the Mauritshuis that Johannes Vermeer's masterpiece "Girl with a Pearl Earring" was targeted by climate activists this week.

Two activists glued themselves to the painting and adjoining wall, while another threw a thick red substance, but the artwork was behind glass and undamaged, and returned to public view on Oct. 28.

Social media images showed the activists wearing "Just Stop Oil" T-shirts.

"How do you feel?" one of them asked. "This painting is protected by glass but... the future of our children is not protected."

That attack came after environmental activists splashed tomato soup on Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" at the National Gallery in London, and threw mashed potato over a Claude Monet painting at the Barberini Museum in Potsdam, Germany.

Bernard Blistene, honorary president of the modern art Centre Pompidou in Paris, said all museum managers had been taking precautions against vandalism for a very long time.

"Should we take more? No doubt," he said.

Ortrud Westheider, director of the Barberini Museum, said the recent attacks showed "international security standards for the protection of artworks in case of activist attacks are...

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