Climate Protesters Smear Degas Sculpture

Climate Protesters Smeared Paint on Case and Pedestal of Degas Sculpture at National Gallery of Art On Thursday, America.

Apr 28, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Climate protesters
“Little Dancer Aged Fourteen”, Source: Live for art.


Climate protesters took again an ecological activisim action, and attacked the works of art. This time,  it is Degas’s Sculpture “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen”. The climate action occurred on Thursday, 11 a.m. They are once again pointing on the growing climate crisis, and speaking directly to president Joe Biden to acknowledge it. The sculpture is on an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.


Climate Protesters Spoke Directly to Joe Biden

Climate Protesters
The protesters smeared black and red paint on the case and pedestal of Degas’s sculpture “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” at the National Gallery of Art. COURTESY OF DECLARE EMERGENCY


As previously said, the protest speaks directly to Biden. The goal is the need to acknowledge the global climate crisis, and stop providing fossil fuels with additional drilling licenses and incentives. Two activists protested, and both of them the police arrested (Tim Martin and Joanna Smith). The group’s name behind these actions is the Declare Emergency organization.


“For our children, we are worried like most of Americans, about climate and about biodiversity crisis”. Martin said, according to the Washington Post. “And we need our leaders to step up, put their differences aside and simply be responsible”. The museum’s director, Kaywin Feldman released a response video to the protest.


Dancer with a Fan, 1879
Dancer with a Fan, 1879


“The work has been taken off display so that our expert conservation team can assess the potential damage. We unequivocally denounce this behavior and will continue to share information as it becomes available”, she said. The Declare Emergency also spoke their mind. A spokesperson said the organization values art, and that’s why everybody needs to deal with climate crisis. If not, there won’t be any artworks to discuss.

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“We need to engage with climate emergency emotionally” – The Declare Emergency

la coiffure degas
La Coiffure by Edgar Degas, circa 1896, via The National Gallery


The organization says that the protest and climate actions come as a result of fear that children will not have the same protection as art. “We have to convey how dire this situation is, in whatever nonviolent way that we can. We need to engage with the climate emergency emotionally, and actions such as this one draw that out in us. They bring us to the emotional state that we need to be in, to realize how bad things really are. Only after getting to that place will we find the motivation and the resolve to truly save ourselves”, the spokesperson said.


The National Gallery of Art demonstration comes after numerous other anti-climate rallies by a range of groups at museums in Europe, Australia, and Canada. High-profile artworks by artists including Vermeer, Goya, Monet, van Gogh, and Rubens are routinely targeted by protesters.


johannes vermeer girl with pearl earring dutch golden age
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, 1665, via Mauritshuis, The Hague


Politicians in Italy advocated for fines in connection with recent demonstrations that featured public monuments. Also,  two activists in Belgium received two-month prison terms in November for vandalizing Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring in the Hague.

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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.