Gustav Klimt’s well-known Attersee lake painting tilted by two degrees, Egon Schiele’s painting of a tree in late autumn rotated by five degrees. As part of the initiative “A Few Degrees More”, Vienna’s Leopold Museum has tilted 15 paintings by the number of degrees unchecked climate change could affect the landscapes depicted.
The initiative, launched on Wednesday, comes after climate activists poured black liquid over a glass screen protecting a Klimt piece at the museum. “We want to contribute to raise awareness of the dramatic consequences of the climate crisis,” museum director Hans-Peter Wipplinger said.
Developed together with the research network Climate Change Center Austria, the action runs until late June.
Wipplinger dismissed the November “attack” — one of a string of similar protests by activists in London, Rome and other cities to highlight the climate emergency — as “absolutely the wrong way” to raise awareness.
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Following the protest, the museum put more works behind glass screens, increased watches and introduced stricter controls at the entrance, he said. “But in the end, we can’t exclude this” from happening again, Wipplinger said, regretting the increased costs incurred by the measures — and the higher insurance premiums.
Sofie Skoven, an 18-year-old student from Denmark visiting Vienna with her class, said the sight of the tilted paintings “of beautiful places” made her sad.
“It makes you want to do something about it — it reminds you of what’s going to be lost,” she told AFP.
Another visitor, Joachim Burdack, was less impressed. “I think it trivialises climate change,” the 71-year-old German retiree told AFP.
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It was too easy to get used to the tilted works, he added.
The Leopold Museum, with its 6,000 artworks, houses one of the world’s most important collections of Austrian art, focusing on the second half of the nineteenth century and subsequent Modernism.