Some among you may contend that Mark Rothko wasn't "really an artist," and if you want, you guys can duke it out in the comments. But the fact is that Rothko is a celebrated icon from a well-loved period of art history, and his mural Black on Maroon (1958) was defaced by a man in London's Tate Modern yesterday, who scrawled a message and signature on the painting (above) as museum patrons watched in shock. The message reads "A potential piece of Yellowism" and is signed Vladimir Umanets.
During an investigation by Scotland Yard, Umanets claimed full responsibility for the vandalism, though he stressed that he is not, in fact, a vandal:
In defence of his scrawl, Mr Umanets said: 'Some people think I'm crazy or a vandal, but my intention was not to destroy or decrease the value, or to go crazy. I am not a vandal. [...] I don't need to be famous, I don't want money, I don't want fame, I'm not seeking seeking attention. Maybe I would like to point people's attention on what it's all about, what is Yellowism, what is art? [...] I believe that from everything bad there's always a good outcome so I'm prepared for that but obviously I don't want to spend a few months, even a few weeks, in jail. But I do strongly believe in what I am doing, I have dedicated my life to this.'
Perhaps you can use the comments to help us interpret what exactly that means.
Umanets has not yet been charged, but the Tate does confirm that "an incident took place" and that "police are currently investigating the incident." Link | Photo: Tim Wright/Twitter
One thing about Rothko's paintings: most people don't realize that they're HUGE! I saw a few at MOMA and was quite impressed by the size of the canvases.