"I'm no vandal," says man who defaced Rothko art

Mon Oct 8, 2012 7:10am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - A man who claims to have defaced a major painting by Mark Rothko over the weekend in London said on Monday that Marcel Duchamp, the French artist most famous for his 1917 urinal that shocked the art establishment, would be "happy" at what he had done.

Police are investigating the incident on Sunday at Tate Modern gallery on the River Thames, where witnesses saw a man approach Rothko's 1958 canvas "Black on Maroon" and inscribe it with black ink in the lower right-hand corner.

Although the ink had run down the canvas, a photograph posted by a witness on the Twitter website showed the words: "VLADIMIR UMANETS '12, A POTENTIAL PIECE OF YELLOWISM."

A man answering a mobile phone number provided via a link on the website of the "Yellowism" movement (www.thisisyellowism.com) answered to the name of Vladimir Umanets and told Reuters he had carried out the attack.

"I'm aware they (the police) will come at some point and arrest me," he said, speaking in an eastern European accent.

"It was an artistic statement, but it was more about having the opportunity to speak about galleries and art," he added, explaining his actions.

"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."   Continued...

A gallery worker walks past Seagram murals by Russian-born American painter Mark Rothko during a media view of the first major exhibition dedicated to his late works at the Tate Modern in London September 24, 2008. REUTERS/Andrew Winning