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This priceless piece of art is the latest to be targeted by climate activists

ABC News 11/15/2022

Climate activists have struck again, targeting another priceless piece of art with ecotage, a new form of sabotage that aims to bring attention to ecological and climate change disasters.

Protesters from Last Generation Austria threw a black oily liquid on Gustav Klimt's painting "Tod und Leben" at the Leopold museum in Vienna, Austria, before glueing theirs hands to the frame. The group tweeted that members targeted the 1915 painting, which translates to "Death and Light," to protest the Austrian government's use of fossil fuels.

MORE: Is eco-vandalism an effective way to raise awareness about climate change? Experts weigh in.

Video posted by the group on Twitter shows activists spilling the black substance onto the painting as other museum-goers are heard gasping in the background. The protester who threw the substance is then detained by a museum security guard as his companion appears to glue her hand to the frame.

"Stop the fossil fuel destruction," one of the activists can be heard saying in Austrian, according to a translation by The Associated Press. "We are racing into a climate hell."

Gustav Klimt's painting "Tod und Leben" is seen after activists of Last Generation Austria spilled oil on it in Leopold museum in Vienna, Nov. 15, 2022. © Letzte Generation Oesterreich/Reuters Gustav Klimt's painting "Tod und Leben" is seen after activists of Last Generation Austria spilled oil on it in Leopold museum in Vienna, Nov. 15, 2022.

After police arrived, the black liquid was quickly cleaned off the glass protecting the painting, the AP reported. The painting was not harmed.

Entry into the Leopold museum was free on Tuesday, which was also St. Leopold's Day, due to a sponsorship by Austrian oil and gas company OMV, according to Reuters. The activists were able to sneak the liquid past security at the entrance of the museum by placing it inside a hot water bottle that they then hid under their clothes, according to the group.

Gustav Klimt's painting "Tod und Leben" is seen after activists of Last Generation Austria spilled oil on it in Leopold museum in Vienna, Nov. 15, 2022. © Letzte Generation Oesterreich/Reuters Gustav Klimt's painting "Tod und Leben" is seen after activists of Last Generation Austria spilled oil on it in Leopold museum in Vienna, Nov. 15, 2022.

The demonstration in Austria is the latest in a string of eco-vandalism attacks that began over the summer and has continued through the start of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

On July 4, protesters glued their hands to John Constable's "The Hay Wain" in London's National Gallery.

MORE: Can shaming help mitigate the climate crisis? Experts offer mixed views

Last month, tomato soup was thrown onto Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" at the National Gallery in London. Mashed potatoes were flung onto a Monet at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, and climate activists glued their hands to the famous "Girl with a Pearl Earring" painting at the Mauritshuis museum in The Netherlands.

On Nov. 5, activists glued themselves to two of Goya's paintings -- "The Clothed Maja and The Naked Maja" -- at the Prado museum in Madrid. They then painted "+1.5 C" on the wall between the two works, signifying the international climate goal to keep global temperatures below a 1.5-degree Celsius rise since the Industrial Revolution began. On Friday, activists in Oslo, Norway, tried to glue themselves to Edvard Munch’s 1893 masterpiece "The Scream."

Activists are specifically targeting paintings protected by glass, or carefully glueing their hands to the frame, rather than the painting itself, as to not permanently destroy the art, Dana R. Fisher, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland who has been studying climate activism since the 1990s, told ABC News.

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