Climate Activists Throw Black Liquid at Klimt Painting in Vienna

Climate Activists Attacked a Famous Painting by Artist Gustav Klimt With a Black, Oily Liquid at the Leopold Museum in Vienna.

Nov 15, 2022By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Climate activists, Gustav Klimt
Two activists throw “a black, oily liquid” at a painting by Klimt. Photo courtesy of Letzte Generation Österreich.


Climate activists attacked another painting, making this a second attack in the City, in the week. The protesters targeted Klimt’s Death and Life (1915) masterpiece. Last Generation Austria is the group behind the attack. They targeted the work of art to protest their government’s use of fossil energies.


“Oil and gas drilling are a death sentence to society” – Climate Activists

A sign informs people waiting to enter the Leopold art museum that no bags are allowed inside. Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images.


Glass served as a shield between the painting and its frame. However, the museum’s restorers reported “evident” damage to this glass. The surrounding wall and floor are also damaged. One protester stuck himself to the window after hurling the liquid.


The guard pushed away the second protester, after which police arrived at the scene. “Stop the fossil fuel destruction”, one protestor said. “We are racing towards a climate hell“. The group defended the protest, saying in a tweet they were protesting “oil and gas drilling“, which they called “a death sentence to society”.


Letzte Generation Österreich on the sceneLetzte Generation Österreich – Twitter


The group is also advocating for a 100 km/h national speed limit. They believe it will reduce CO2 emissions by 460 million tons annually and enhance air quality. “Attacking works of art is definitely the wrong way to implement the targeted goal of preventing the predicted climate collapse“, said the museum’s director, Hans-Peter Wipplinger.

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In response to the latest attack, Austria’s culture minister Andrea Mayer said: “I do not believe actions like these are purposeful. The question arises whether they do not rather lead to more lack of understanding than to more awareness of the climate catastrophe.”


“Art and culture are allies, not adversaries” – Austria’s Culture Minister



Mayer also stated that art and culture are allies in the fight against climate catastrophe, not adversaries. “From my point of view, accepting the risk of irrevocable damage to works of art is the wrong way to go”, the minister added.


Despite stricter security measures at the entrance, the protesters carried the liquid into the building in a hot water bottle. One of the activists carried it under its clothes. This is the second climate protest in Austria within the past week. On Thursday, two climate activists glued themselves to the base of a dinosaur skeleton at the Natural History Museum in Vienna.


The Klimt work is an oil on canvas painting in the Art Nouveau style. The painting depicts death on the left side and a group of partially naked, hugging people on the right side. It is also one of the latest works of art, targeted in a series of climate protests.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.