June 7, 2023
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The director of the Leopold Museum, Hans-Peter Wipplinger, next to the tilted painting Attersee by Klimt, on March 22, in Vienna. Joe Klamar/AFP

The Leopold Museum, a recent target of environmental activists, has tilted 15 canvases the number of degrees whose depicted landscapes could heat up in years to come.

On the Attersee lake, Houses by the sea… in Vienna, these masterpieces by Gustav Klimt And by Egon Schiele have been hung askew since Wednesday March 22 for raise public awareness of climate change. The famous Leopold Museum, a recent target of environmental activists, has tilted 15 canvases the number of degrees whose landscapes depicted could warm in the coming years if climate change runs out of control. A disturbing vision, when usually these paintings are soothing.

“A temperature increase of just a few degrees would promote algae blooms and gradually dry out the beautiful turquoise lake,” can we read for example next to the table ofAttersee. So that future generations can admire this landscape as painted by the artist, it is necessary contain global warming to 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era, warns the museum, while IPCC experts have called this week for act radically to ensure “a livable future”. See as well “beautiful places” in an unstable position is enough to make you sad and “incites to action” For “what will be lost”told AFP Sofie Skoven, a Danish student visiting with her class in the Austrian capital.

The project is named A few more degrees by this institution housing, with its 6,000 pieces, one of the largest collections of Austrian art in the world, focusing on the second half of the 19th century and the modernism that followed. With this initiative, director Hans-Peter Wipplinger explains “to want to warn about the dramatic consequences of the climate crisis”.

In response to activists

The concept was in fact imagined as a response to activists who in November had sprayed a Klimt painting – protected by glass – with a black liquid to denounce a partnership between the museum and oil giant OMV. A stunt that the head of the museum had little appreciated, who denounces “a bad method”. It was necessary to multiply from the windows in front of the canvases, to reinforce the surveillance of the rooms and the controls at the entrance.

He regrets the cost incurred, while insurance premiums have also risenwithout it being possible to guarantee that such measures “prevent” another incident to occur. Visible until June and developed with a network of Austrian scientists devoting their research to the climate, the initiative was diversely received by visitors. The look gets used to and in the end, that “trivializes global warming”believes Joachim Burdack, a 71-year-old German retiree.

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