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Nurses smear paint on Monet artwork in Sweden, demand climate action

Two nurses smeared paint and glue on a Monet painting to protest the Swedish government's handling of climate change.
Posted at 6:57 PM, Jun 15, 2023

Two women were detained in Stockholm after they threw "some kind of paint" at a painting by French artist Claude Monet and then glued themselves to the frame, Sweden's National Museum said on Wednesday.

The painting, "The Artist's Garden at Giverny," was on display as part of an exhibition at the museum. Spokesperson Hanna Tottmar said artwork was encased in glass and "is now being examined by the museum's conservators to see if any damage has occurred."

The exhibit, titled "The Garden," was closed but expected to reopen to visitors on Thursday. "We naturally distance ourselves from actions where art or cultural heritage risks being damaged ... regardless of the purpose," Per Hedström, the museum's acting director, said.

Before they were apprehended, the activists smeared red paint on the painting, according to a video of Wednesday's incident.

Edvard Munch's

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"The situation is urgent. As a nurse, I refuse to watch. The pandemic was nothing compared to the climate collapse. It's about life or death," one of the women, identified in a news release as Emma Johanna Fritzdotter, shouted.

"People won't just die from heat stroke. New diseases will spread, and we cannot even imagine the extent of this," she said.

Helen Wahlgren, the spokesperson for the Restore Wetlands activist group, said the purpose of the museum action was to pressure the Swedish government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We need to do everything possible to draw attention to this climate catastrophe and our demands to restore the wetlands that store large amounts of carbon," Wahlgren said.

"The Artist's Garden at Giverny," which Monet painted in 1900, is the latest artwork in a museum to be targeted by climate activists to draw attention to global warming.

The British group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" in London's National Gallery in October.

Just Stop Oil activists also glued themselves to the frame of an early copy of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" at London's Royal Academy of Arts, and to John Constable's "The Hay Wain" in the National Gallery.