Picasso masterpiece unharmed after Australian activists glue hands to painting

Extinction Rebellion protestors pulled the stunt at a Melbourne art museum on Sunday

A climate activist stands with a hand glued to the perspex covering of Picasso's work 'Massacre in Korea'. Matt Hrkac/ Reuters
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Two Extinction Rebellion climate activists glued their hands to a valuable Picasso painting at National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne on Sunday.

The protesters stuck their hands to the cover of the anti-war painting Massacre in Korea, according to local police, protesters and the gallery.

The painting was not damaged, confirmed authorities.

The black-clad activists were shown with their hands pressed against the painting, by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, in images shared on social media by the Extinction Rebellion movement.

A man wearing a T-shirt with the Extinction Rebellion symbol — an hourglass in a circle — stood alongside them.

On the ground at their feet lay a black banner reading “Climate Chaos = War + Famine”.

“It is believed three protesters entered the ground level of the gallery before a man and a woman glued themselves to a protective covering of a Picasso painting,” said a Victoria Police spokeswoman.

The protesters — a woman aged 49 from New South Wales and a man aged 59 from Melbourne — were “removed from the painting” more than an hour after sticking themselves to it.

The pair, along with another man aged 49, from Melbourne, were initially arrested but were later released “pending further inquiries”, said police.

The gallery said it closed the exhibition to the public during the protest.

“The protesters' hands were safely removed from the perspex with no harm to the work,” said a representative for the National Gallery of Victoria.

The 1951 work by Pablo Picasso “shows the horrors of war”, Extinction Rebellion Victoria said on its Facebook page.

“Climate breakdown will mean an increase in conflict around the world. Now is the time for everyone and all institutions to stand up for action!” the group said.

The painting was being shown on the final day of the gallery's The Picasso Century exhibition.

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Updated: October 09, 2022, 2:57 PM