The Gallerie Degli Uffizi in Florence is home to one of the Renaissance’s most famous paintings. The piece, is the “Primavera” paiyting by artist Sandro Botticelli. Over recent weeks, this piece is in the spotlight due to a protest by climate activists in Italy.
This news hasn’t come as a shock. And it certainly isn’t the first time we’ve seen activists take the urgency of the climate change crisis into their own hands. The most recent, and notable occurrence – a man, dressed as an elderly woman at the Louvre earlier this year, smeaing cake across Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”.
Now, the Italian climate activist group, Ultima Generazione (Last Generation), are at the centre of the drama. The group explains that,
“In the same way that we defend our artistic heritage, we should be dedicated to the care and protection of the planet.”
They are orchestrating such attacks, and evidently, it was three of their members who glued their hands on to Sandro Botticelli’s seminal 15th Century painting, “Primavera“.
In an Instagram post after the protest, Ultima Generazione explain their actions. They say that targeting the painting is due its subject matter. According to the group, it represents “with a finesse of detail that borders on the encyclopedic – more than 500 botanical species that bloom precisely in the months of spring… This is a reality that we are in danger of losing.” Prior to their arrest, a man and woman hold a sign that reads, “Ultima Generazione No Gas No Carbone (Last Generation, No Gas, No Coal).”
And as for the painting in the aftermath of this protest, according to a report by The Guardian, the group adequately prepared for the protest and consulted art restoration experts to make sure no damage would be done to the painting. “We consulted restorers who advised us to use a glue suitable for glass and frames…”
“Fires, food crises and drought make it increasingly difficult. We decided to use art to sound an alarm call: we are heading towards social and eco-climate collapse,” the group explains in a statement last week, per The Guardian.
A gallery spokesperson from the museum tells the Art Newspaper a 20-minute clean-up of the glass covering “Primavera” followed the protest: “If there had not been the special protection glass—something that museum management put in place with all major masterpieces a few years ago—then the work would have been badly damaged.”
Ultima Generazione has been enacting similar protests in Italy since December. But why are they targeting famous artworks and museums? Well, on their website, the group answers just that.
“Italy is internationally recognized as the cradle of the artistic and museum heritage. We turn to the world of art to launch a heartfelt appeal for our requests to be brought to the government by all social partners. The ongoing eco-climatic and social collapse will also tragically impact the preservation of the places of conservation of cultural heritage.
In the same way that we defend our artistic heritage, we should be dedicated to the care and protection of the planet that we share with the rest of the world.”
A Recurring Event
The event is the latest in a number of similar happenings across the UK, Europe and the United States. Two days after the incident in Italy, climate activists from the activist group, Just Stop Oil, continue the noise; by gluing themselves to Giampietrino’s “The Last Supper” at the Royal Academy of Arts. Works by Vincent Van Gogh, Horatio McCulloch, and J. M. W. Turner have also become targets for protestors over recent weeks.
In a recent statement from the London-based group, one of the protestors explains why she is taking action. She says that the government “plans to license 40 new UK oil and gas projects in the next few years. This makes them complicit in pushing the world towards an unlivable climate and in the death of billions of people in the coming decades.”
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