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French climate activists pour paint on Charles Ray sculpture in Paris

Climate activists from the 'Derniere Renovation' group pose next to Charles Ray's "Horse and Rider" statue after dousing it with orange paint on 18 November, 2022. © DERNIERE RENOVATION via REUTERS - DERNIERE RENOVATION

Environmental activists have splatted orange paint over an outdoor sculpture by American artist Charles Ray in central Paris – the latest in a string of attacks on artwork aimed at spurring greater government efforts to fight climate change.

The lifesize "Horse and Rider" stands in front of the Bourse de Commerce contemporary art museum, which houses part of the collection of French fashion billionaire François Pinault.

Friday's action was claimed by Dernière Rénovation ("Last Renovation"), a movement set up in April 2022 and which carries out acts of civil disobedience to highlight the urgency of tackling climate change.

It published a photo of two activists, kneeling and holding hands in front of the doused sculpture, on its website.

They were identified as Aruana, 26, and Rachel, 20.

They had also covered the rider with a white T-shirt with the phrase "We have 858 days left", in a reference to studies that say carbon emissions must peak by 2025 if the planet is to have a viable future.

"Eco-vandalism goes up a notch," Culture Minister Rima Abdel Malak, who visited the site as workers cleaned up the paint, wrote on Twitter.

"Art and ecology are not incompatible. On the contrary, they are common causes," she said.

The incident came as climate activists in Milan targeted an Andy Warhol work on Friday, covering a car repainted by the American pop artist with flour. Two weeks earlier, the same group threw pea soup at a Van Gogh painting in Rome.

Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring" in The Hague, Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" in London, and Klimt's "Death and Life" in Vienna have also been targeted, drawing widespread condemnation from officials.

This is the first time Dernière Rénovation has targeted a work of art, having concentrated its activism on roadblocks or disrupting sporting and cultural events.

One of the activists, Victor, talked to the latest Spotlight on France podcast about the reasoning behind their actions.

(with newswires)

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