Why A Legendary Van Gogh Painting Was Attacked With Tomato Soup

Quick, let's play a little word association game. We say "famous painting" and also "tomato soup" and you say ... "Andy Warhol," right? The godfather of pop art may be best known for the series of soup cans he painted which, in retrospect, reveal that Campbell's used to have a far more exciting product line 60 years ago than it does today. (Whatever happened to Pepper Pot, Chili Bean, Cream of Asparagus, and Scotch Broth, anyway?) Warhol's iconic tomato soup painting, in particular, seems to encapsulate the entire 1960s art scene.

Another, even better-known painting that predates Warhol's soup cans by a good seven decades or so recently had its own tomato soup moment – "Sunflowers," the Vincent Van Gogh painting that spawned a zillion reproductions that can be found hanging in nearly every suburban home, was recently doused with a few cans of the stuff. (Life, however, did not imitate art to the point where it was the Campbell's brand – apparently, the tomato soup used came from Heinz, instead.) As to why "Sunflowers" was the target of such an attack, Sky News says the soup-slingers were protesting, although the painting itself wasn't the real target of their ire.

The painting was attacked by climate change activists

The two young women who were arrested after chucking soup at the painting hanging in London's National Gallery did so because they were protesting climate change. As Sky News reports, they are affiliated with the group Just Stop Oil, which has been demonstrating in and around the city for days. It seems the painting may have been chosen because it is well-known and valuable (its worth is estimated to be £72.5 million, or about $81 million) – one of the protesters was heard asking, "Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting? Or the protection of our planet and people?" The soup itself may also have had some symbolic value (apart from tomatoes bearing a vague resemblance to blood) as she also noted that "fuel is unaffordable to millions of cold hungry families. They can't even afford to heat a tin of soup."

While the Just Stop Oil protestors did succeed in attracting worldwide attention to their cause and their organization, the damage to the painting was minimal. It's actually protected by a sheet of glass, so the only harm was to the frame and even that was described by the National Gallery as "minor." Apparently, they've already taken care of it because "Sunflowers" is now back on display. As for the protesters, they are scheduled to go on trial in December, but until that time UPI says the women are banned from museums and art galleries.