The Mona Lisa Attacked by…Soup?!

A pair of activists spill soup on Renaissance art | Source: Smithsonian Magazine

The Mona Lisa is no stranger to acts of vandalism as a form of protest. In 1911, it was stolen. In 1956, an attempt was made to use a razor blade and rock to defile the Mona Lisa. In 1974, it was nearly damaged while on tour in Tokyo. In 2009, a teacup was thrown at her. In 2022, it was caked. Now the activists are attacking the Mona Lisa with soup. Despite all of this, the painting has survived, thanks to a bulletproof glass case. But why do people attack art?

This isn’t the first attack on Mona Lisa | Source: New York Post

Climate Activism

The Mona Lisa is a 16th century painting by Leonardo da Vinci and is one of the most famous paintings of all time.

Over the past few months and years, climate activists have targeted valuable art to call attention to the climate crisis. 

In this most recent instance, two activists ducked under the protective glass barrier surrounding Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The two protesters, ages 24 and 63, unzipped their coats to display the name of their civil resistance climate activist group, “Riposte Alimentaire” which translates to “food response” or “food counterattack” in English, on their shirts.

In a video, the two appeared to be raising their hands as if to take an oath. They called for, per English translation, “healthy and sustainable” food. They add, “Your agricultural system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work” after throwing pumpkin soup at the beloved masterpiece.

Museum staff quickly used black shields to cover the scene as guests cried in shock. The two were later arrested.

In the social media post from the group, they claimed responsibility for the act and pointed to social, economic, and environmental issues in the agricultural system. Food production now accounts for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world. They additionally emphasized food insecurity in the country of France. 38% of Europeans don’t eat three meals a day and there has been a significant increase in deaths by suicide among French farmers feeling the financial threats of a broken agricultural system.

To address these issues, Riposte Alimentaire demanded that food be added to the social security net and that each citizen be given a card with 150 euros a month to buy selected foods.

Other Instances

This was nowhere close to the first instance of an attack on art in the name of protest. The 2022 caking of the Mona Lisa urged everyone to “think of the Earth.”

A similar group called “Just Stop Oil” in 2022 threw tomato soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in London’s National Gallery. They asked a shocked group of onlookers, “Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?”

Climate activists are increasingly making their points through actions against paintings. Many who study meaningful climate action and effective communication of protest argue that these acts are not shifting people’s views in the right way and that they are simply causing outrage. Two things are certain, however: these protests are grabbing attention and we have not seen the last of them.

About the Author

Michelle Fanjoy
Hey! I am a sophomore at IMSA ('26) and I live in 1503. I enjoy playing tennis and the flute. I also love watching Formula 1, but most importantly, I love writing! I am looking forward to working as a staff writer for The Acronym this year.

Be the first to comment on "The Mona Lisa Attacked by…Soup?!"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.