Art Dirt: On Art, Money, and the Recent UK Just Stop Oil Protests

by Glasstire July 17, 2022
A person in an orange shirt sits with their hand on a painting's frame. The text "no new oil" is spray painted on the wall.

A Just Stop Oil protester sits with their hand glued to Giampietrino and Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio’s copy of “The Last Supper.” Image: Just Stop Oil

William Sarradet and Brandon Zech discuss recent demonstrations in the UK, for which protesters superglued themselves to the frames of famous artworks.

“If total divestment from a supposedly toxic industry is not possible in the short term, I would think the protest strategy would be to demand as big a piece of the pie as possible from the companies involved.”

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Related Reading:
The Guardian: Just Stop Oil activists glue themselves to Turner painting frame in Manchester
The Guardian: Just Stop Oil campaigners glue themselves to Da Vinci copy in Royal Academy
ARTnews: Why Climate Activists Are Gluing Themselves to Paintings Across the U.K.
Daily Beast: The Activists Trying to Stick It to Big Oil by Gluing Themselves to Art
NY Times: U.K. Museums Face a Sticky Problem From Climate Protests
The Art Newspaper: Constable painting rehung at National Gallery after protestors glue themselves to frame
Artnet News: Climate Protestors Glued Themselves to a Van Gogh Painting at the Courtauld, Demanding That Museums Join Their ‘Civil Resistance’
Ocula: Just Stop Oil (Painting?)
Just Stop Oil’s Website
Houston Public Media: Should Arts Organizations Accept Sponsorship from Oil Companies?
NY Times: BP to End Sponsorship of Tate Museums
Independent: BP to end controversial sponsorship of Tate in 2017
NY Times: This Exhibition Was Brought to You by Guns and Big Oil
NY Times: Environmental Activists Focus on Museums That Take Oil Money
NY Times: Should Oil Money Fund the Arts? Leading British Artists Say No
NY Times: Making Museums Moral Again
Glasstire: Notes On Common Field 2020, Houston Edition
NY Times: Man Throws Pastry at Mona Lisa, Smearing Cream on Glass Case
The Texas Tribune: Texas warns firms they could lose state contracts for divesting from fossil fuels
NPR: Texas stumbles in its effort to punish green financial firms

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suebgreen July 17, 2022 - 12:56

Good podcast – but one more point about their invasive practices: the frames are part of the art too…not just the paintings. I’d hesitate to suggest they aren’t harming the art just because they are not gluing to the actual paintings.

They could (or have been) potentially destroy priceless artefacts with the frames too.

Which brings another question: how far will they go- what will the protesters do next if they are not held severely accountable for invasive protests such as these? For example: what if the Mona Lisa did not have protective glass over it when the cake was thrown on it? Consider other pieces that do not have glass protection.

These museums now must take time and funds to repair the art. The protesters are going backwards, not forwards with this tactic.

These protesters have absolutely no respect for the art, the museums or the patrons. Protests are fine – but destroying art to get “attention” is a child’s move and totally unwarranted and uncalled for. Their method makes me sick and I certainly would not support this group because of their invasive practice.


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