Climate activists throw black liquid at Klimt painting in Vienna

Climate activists have attacked a famous painting by artist Gustav Klimt in Vienna
Climate activists have attacked a famous painting by artist Gustav Klimt in Vienna   -   Copyright  Letzte Generation Oesterreich/AP   -  
By David Mouriquand  with AP

Climate activists have attacked a famous painting by artist Gustav Klimt with a black, oily liquid at the Leopold Museum in Vienna.

Letzte Generation Österreich (Last Generation Austria) said they targeted the 1915 work of art to protest their government's use of fossil energies.

In a video of the incident, which the group posted online, an activist is seen throwing the liquid on the 1915 painting, called 'Death and Life.'

Letzte Generation Österreich - Twitter
The group said they targeted the 1915 work of art to protest their government's use of fossil energies.Letzte Generation Österreich - Twitter
Letzte Generation Österreich - Twitter
Letzte Generation Österreich on the sceneLetzte Generation Österreich - Twitter

One activist was pushed away by a guard at the Leopold Museum, while another glued his hand to the glass protecting the art work.

One of the activists can be heard shouting: “We have known about the problem for 50 years – we must finally act, otherwise the planet will be broken. Stop the fossil fuel destruction. We are racing into a climate hell.”

On Twitter the group defended the action, saying they were protesting against "oil and gas drilling", which they called "a death sentence to society".

They went on to say: "Lowering the speed limit to 100km/h on highways costs nothing to implement, saves 460 million tons of CO2 per year in #Austria alone and leads to less noise, better air quality and safer roads. What are we waiting for?"

The artwork itself wasn't damaged, but the museum's restoration team said damage to the glass and security framing, as well as to the wall and floor, was “significant”.

The activists succeeded in bringing the liquid inside by hiding it in a hot water bottle under their clothes, local media reported.

Hans-Peter Wipplinger, the director of the museum, told the Austria Press Agency that the concerns of the climate activists were justified, “but attacking works of art is definitely the wrong way to implement the targeted goal of preventing the predicted climate collapse”.

The Klimt painting was one of the latest pieces of art to be targeted in Europe by climate activists to draw attention to global warming. In recent months, mashed potatoes were thrown at a Claude Monet painting in Germany and the British group Just Stop Oil - whom Euronews Culture spoke to last month - threw tomato soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s 'Sunflowers' in London’s National Gallery, glued themselves to the frame of an early copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s 'The Last Supper' at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, and to John Constable's 'The Hay Wain' in the National Gallery.

Read our interview with Just Stop Oil, who defended their actions and the right to attack art.