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.
Aruanu, 26 ans, et Rachel, 20 ans, citoyennes soutenant Dernière Rénovation, ont jeté de la peinture orange sur la statue “Horse and Rider” de Charles Ray située à la Bourse de commerce de Paris.  #858daysleft pic.twitter.com/c87HcH5pWp— Dernière Rénovation (@derniere_renov) November 18, 2022
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.
L’éco-vandalisme monte d’un cran : une sculpture non protégée de Charles Ray a été aspergée de peinture à Paris. Merci aux restauratrices qui sont intervenues rapidement. Art et écologie ne sont pas antinomiques. Ce sont au contraire des causes communes! pic.twitter.com/LYGx2lPjVF— Rima Abdul Malak (@RimaAbdulMalak) November 18, 2022
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.