Eco Activists Target François Pinault’s Private Collection in Paris

Eco Activists Target a Sculpture Owned by François Pinault, One of France’s Most Prominent Private Collectors, on 18 November.

Nov 21, 2022By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Francois Pinault
Photo Chesnot/Getty Images.


Eco Activists target an equestrian item made of silver. The sculpture’s name is Horse and Rider, 2014. Eco activists attacked it with orange paint. The statue stands outside the Bourse de Commerce-Pinault Collection in Paris. Billionaire François Pinault is the one who founded the collection.


“I’m 26 and there’s almost no chance of me dying of old age” – Eco Activists

Eco Activist
Getty; The Atlantic


One of the protestors mounted the horse, shows an Instagram video. He also put a T-shirt on the horse rider, which says: “We have 858 days left”. This refers to the three-year window for CO2 emission reduction. The protesters then took a seat holding hands. It is still not known if they will face legal consequences.


One of the activists, Aruanu, spoke through her Instagram account. “What other choice do we have? I’m 26 and there’s almost no chance of me dying of old age. It must be said—government inaction is mass murder for my generation.”


Eco Activists
Eco Activists attacked Horse and Rider sculpture.


The French culture minister, Rima Abdul Malak, also visited the site, tweeting: “Eco-vandalism goes up a notch: an unprotected sculpture by Charles Ray got sprayed with paint in Paris. Thank you to the restorers who intervened quickly. Art and ecology are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are common causes!”

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The ministers’ tweets caused angry reactions. We are kept captive by your inaction, one user said in response to heated replies.


Climate Activists Protests Raised Awareness About Everyday Questions

Climate activists, Gustav Klimt
Two activists throw “a black, oily liquid” at a painting by Klimt. Photo courtesy of Letzte Generation Österreich.


The increasing number of attacks on artworks raised awareness of the issue. “These tactics are specifically geared toward getting media attention”, a researcher focused on recent events said. But, the attention is a poisoned chalice. Also, sentiment about the tactic runs at least 10 to 1 against it.


The refrain that the activists “didn’t actually damage the art”, shows how brittle the support is. This indicates admitting that doing the thing probably is a bad idea. But, the campaign’s goal is not to get sympathy but to shock people into paying attention. Because of that, it can go in two ways.


Just Stop Oil Activists
The protesters also smeared their hands in glue, and stuck them to the museum’s walls. Via Associated Press


The media begin to treat them as PR stunts or it can escalate to keep up the momentum. Just Stop Oil’s key goal is to halt the authorization of new oil permits. Thanks to their wave of actions, a much larger number of people are now aware that the U.K. is authorizing a bunch of new drilling.


“But… why target art?” is among the most common reaction from observers. While you can spin the answer many different ways, the actual answer seems to be that. The acts work because they are incongruous. That generates attention of the “…they did ?” variety that gives them a viral lift, even as other types of more relevant action generate less attention.

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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.