Rothko defacer inspired by DuchampLONDON - A man who claims to have defaced a major painting by Mark Rothko during 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 Web site showed the words: “VLADIMIR UMANETS ‘12, A POTENTIAL PIECE OF YELLOWISM.”
A man answering a mobile phone number provided via a link on the Web site of the “Yellowism” movement (www.thisisyellowism.com) answered to the name of Vladimir Umanets and said he carried out the attack.
“I’m aware they [the police] will come at some point and arrest me,” he said in an Eastern European accent. “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,’ 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.”
Duchamp’s iconoclastic urinal, titled “Fountain” and featuring the words “R. Mutt,” is considered one of the most influential works of the 20th century for challenging people’s understanding of what constitutes art.
“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,” Umanets said.