UPDATE – Rothko Seagram Mural Painting Incident: Statement by Estate and News on Suspect

October 8th, 2012

Image: A gallery worker walks past Seagram murals by Mark Rothko in London via Reuters

Following the incident of the Rothko painting that was defaced yesterday, the estate of Mark Rothko expressed its confidence in the Tate. Reuters spoke to the suspect, providing additional details on possible motive:

Image: Vladimir Umanets via The Times of London

Image: The painting that was defaced – Mark Rothko, Black on Maroon © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/DACS 1998

The Pace Gallery, which has represented the estate since 1968, issued a statement from The Rothko family:

“The Rothko family is greatly troubled by yesterday’s occurrence but has full confidence that the Tate Gallery will do all in its power to remedy the situation. Our father donated his legendary Seagram paintings to the museum in 1969 sensing the commitment of the institution to his work and impressed by the warm embrace it had received from the British public. We are heartened to have felt that embrace again in the outpouring of distress and support that we and our father have received both directly and in public forums.”
– Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko (via The Pace Gallery)

Reuters also reported today that after calling the number on the website of the “Yellowism” movement (www.thisisyellowism.com). They spoke to a Vladimir Umanets, who told Reuters he had carried out the attack.

“I’m aware they (the police) will come at some point and arrest me. ” He added: “It was an artistic statement, but it was more about having the opportunity to speak about galleries and art. Marcel Duchamp, when he made ‘readymades’ (art), everyone was shocked. I don’t want to be considered a vandal or someone who wants to destroy something, especially such a valuable painting. It’s more about to change perception of things, of spectators. It’s more about an idea. What I do believe is the most creative thing left to do in contemporary art today is to abandon this (art) and Marcel Duchamp was trying to do this. I’m not saying I’m another Marcel Duchamp. I’m not a tag-maker. I’m doing my own thing … After Duchamp, nothing actually happened. I definitely believe that Marcel Duchamp would be really happy.”

The manifesto of “Yellowism”, according to the website, is described as neither art nor anti-art and that the “context for works of art is already art”.

The London Police said they are looking for a white man in his late-20s. No arrest has been made.

Update 10/10/2012: The police spokesman said that a 26-year-old man was arrested in Worthing, which is about 60 miles south of London. They did not confirm whether it was Umanets.

-V. Artzimovich

[The Times of London]
[The Pace Gallery]
[BBC News Video: Mark Rothko painting at Tate Modern defaced]
[CBS News: Man arrested on suspicion of defacing Rothko work]