The Complete Coverage of The Complete Coverage of the Rothko Vandalism

by Whitney Kimball on October 8, 2012 · 2 comments Newswire

A Potential Act of Yellowism (Photo via BBC, via ArtINFO, via Reuters, via Guardian, via Hyperallergic, via @WrightTG)

If art writers can’t have Columbus Day off, then at least we can have the second best thing to an art world snow day: an Art Vandalism Day! That means everybody in the art world can drop whatever they’re doing and spend two full days disputing the exact nature and aftermath of an art vandalism. In recent months, we’ve seen a Poussin spray painted in London; a Clyfford Still peed on in Denver; Piss Christ hammered in France; a Picasso stenciled in Houston; and yesterday Mark Rothko’s Black On Maroon (we’re not sure which one— it’s disputed!) autographed at the Tate in London. Who was the first to tweet the event? Was it London or New York time? What does Jonathan Jones think about this? You need answers, and here they are, people: the full, in-depth, up-to-the-minute coverage of a guy signing his name on a Rothko painting. Let’s see if we can push it to day three.

October 7th, 10:30 EDT: Museum visitor Tim Wright (@WrightTG) breaks the news with a Twitpic. A response tweeter claims they’ve locked down the Tate. [Twitter]

October 7th, 16:10 EDT:
Ben Quinn at the Guardian picks up the story.
So far, we can tell from the graffiti that this “a potential piece of yellowism.” “According to an online manifesto,” writes Quinn, “Yellowism is an artistic movement run by two people named Vladimir Umanets and Marcin Lodyga.” [The Guardian]

Aside: This is the “online manifesto” the Guardian referred to.
It sounds like any art or philosophical manifesto, explaining Yellowism in terms of what it’s not (art or anti-art) and that Yellowism is only Yellowism; while art is a “diverse whole,” Yellowism is a “homogenous mass.” It can only be presented in “yellowistic chambers,” where violet is the only neutral color. We’re not taking this to literally mean that the art is yellow, since the writing on the Rothko looks black.

On the site, there are posts for Yellowistic merch (lingere, skateboards) and Yellowistic texts (“In the context of yellowism every feeling is a definition of yellow…”) Yellowists choose Pepsi. According to the site, the Yellowists have been holding Yellowist shows in Yellowistic Chambers, which they name after models like Natalia Vodianova and Barbara Palvin.

October 7th, 19:47 EDT: The Guardian quotes Vladimir Umanets, who believes his act of art will enhance the painting’s provenance:

I didn’t destroy the picture. I did not steal anything. There was a lot of stuff like this before. Marcel Duchamp signed things that were not made by him, or even Damien Hirst. [The Guardian]

October 7th, 7:59 PM EDT: The Daily Mail describes Yellowism as “outlandish”. They might have a point. Vladimir Umanets’ assertion that he’s increased the value of painting goes unchallenged, as does the following; “I don’t need to be famous, I don’t want money, I don’t want fame, I’m not seeking seeking attention.”  [Daily Mail]

October 7th, 8:54 PM EDT: Julia Halperin’s initial news story hits ArtINFO. [ArtINFO]

October 7th: Hyperallergic’s got the full twitter coverage. A taste:

UPDATE 13: BBC has a video report. And they state that the painting that was damaged was “Black on Maroon” (1959), and not “Black on Maroon” (1958). Though I think they might be wrong. The red band on the right appears much thicker in the 1959 “Black on Maroon” than the photo would suggest. I’ve juxtaposed a screenshot of the BBC video and Tim Wright’s original twitterpic. [Hyperallergic]

October 7th: A bunch of people on Twitter don’t give a shit. [Hyperallergic]

October 7th: Lee Rosenbaum recaps, with mild disdain (“The perverse act of making a “statement” by defacing museum masterpieces…”) [culturegrrl]

October 8th, 8:42 AM BST: This angers Jonathan Jones.

Mark Rothko‘s Seagram murals are great works of art that were given, free, to Britain. They are glories of our artistic heritage – American marvels preserved permanently in London.
Now one has been defaced.
The idiocy of someone scribbling on one of these wine-dark, blood-rich paintings is hideous. Nobody stopped the scoundrel. A witness tweeted that the criminal “tagged” the painting. This was not a tag, which implies a creative act. It was a pathetic assault.

et cetera…

October 8th, 5:30 AM EDT: LA Times reports. [LAT]

October 8th, 9:55 AM BST: The Telegraph reports that the Rothko painting “can be restored.” [Telegraph]

October 8th, 10:42 AM BST: The BBC reports that Umanets is a “big fan” of Rothko, and that the Tate has no plans to stop letting people get close to the art. [BBC]

October 8th, 11:04 AM BST: Repeat: Umanets denies vandalism. Denies. [Telegraph]

October 8th, 7:13 AM EDT: The New York Times reports on the case via Reuters, quoting Umanets as saying, “I definitely believe that Marcel Duchamp would be really happy.” Other sources have not yet confirmed Duchamp’s reaction. [NYT]

October 8th, 8:33 AM EDT: ArtINFO’s got a statement from the Rothko family, released by Pace.

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. [ArtINFO]

October 8th, 9:31 AM EDT: Gallerist is over it. [GalleristNY]

October 8th, 10:04 AM EDT: Bloomberg reminds us that the Seagram murals were made for the Seagram Building:

Rothko was commissioned in June 1958 to decorate the dining room of a restaurant inside the Seagram Building on Park Avenue in Manhattan. [Bloomberg]

October 8th, 10:25 AM EDT: The Wall Street Journal urges for increased museum security, with echoes of Jones.

The incident Sunday served as a reminder of how vulnerable prized paintings can be when on display in high-traffic museums. Though it is home to some of the world’s most expensive paintings, the Tate Modern doesn’t subject visitors to bag searches or airport-style metal detectors. [WSJ]

October 8th, 10:30 AM EDT: Marina Galperina becomes the first person to look up Yellowism. [AnimalNY]

October 8th, 10:50 AM EDT: “Pretentious Idiot Defaces Rothko, Would be Horrible Boyfriend” [Jezebel]


Corinna Kirsch October 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm


Ian Aleksander Adams October 8, 2012 at 5:38 pm

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