This is a story about something that shifts into something else altogether. But it’s not readily apparent because the “something else” is so sly that you don’t see it coming or recognizes it when it does.

First, the story as reported. For the last several months, climate activists protesting big oil have been attacking artworks across Europe.

Sticking to their guns

The protestors began by gluing themselves to the frames of famous paintings. In England, it was John Constable’s “The Hay Wain.” In Germany, it was Rubens’ “Massacre of the innocents.”

Paintings in the Uffizi in Florence and the Vatican in Rome were also targeted for gluing.

No harm done to the art. The attack was on picture frames not the pictures, and the glue was easily dissolved.

Soups on!

The lateset version of climate activism consisted of tossing the contents of two cans of tomato soup at Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in the National Gallery in London. Again, no harm done. The painting is protected by glass.

After souping up the glazed picture, the activists glued their hands to the wall under the work. Then came what I’d call a tell, a remark from one of the activists asking museumgoers who watched the soup-splash in horror if they “are more concerned about the protection of a painting, or the protection of our planet and people.”

Did you catch that slight to an artwork?

It’s a Trumpian tactic. Tie your cause to something people are uncomfortable with and presto, your cause has legs.

In Trump’s case, he roped his yen for political power to America’s latent mistrust of immigrants by accusing Obama of being Nigerian.

“Just Stop Oil” tied – no, glued – the public’s unease with the art world to climate change and you’ve won the public’s attention.

It’s why art museums are the activists constant target.

Protest leader Mel Carrington even admitted to the New York Times that the choice of soup was pointed, that a lot of Brits were struggling to pay their bills owing to fuel costs and some can’t afford to heat up a can of soup.

The unspoken message in Carrington’s words practically screams that while the Brits go without, “Sunflowers” famously had sold for nearly $40 million at Christie’s in London.

The monetization of art is back. Did it ever leave us? It’s hard to forget the dollar value of art these days. Andy Warhol painting “200 Dollar Bills” sold at auction for $43.8 million. Art is valued in dollars because that’s how the news media reports art news – the sale price.

When Van Gogh’s “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” sold for $82.5 million, Henry Mitchell, a garden columnist for the Washington Post, reacted this way: “A number of painters sleep and eat when they feel like it. They punch no clocks, fill out no timecards...They are as free as anybody else to sell a picture for millions. All they have to do is convince some idiot it's worth it.”

Is it any wonder that climate activists would target art museums to make their case?