October 2, 2023

Yellowism, Umanets and the Tate Rothko

A conceptual artist called Vladimir Umanets is suspected of having written on a Mark Rothko painting at the Tate Modern in London. Surprisingly he was allowed to walk out of the building and has not yet been arrested. However, having written his name and website on the Rothko he knows what is coming.

The Flaneur has contacted Umanets for a statement. In the meantime we have been able to study his Yellowism site and examine the philosophy behind it.

Writing on a work of art will always be seen as an act of vandalism – especially when the painting in question is a multi-millionpound piece by an artist as famous as Rothko. By targeting such a work Umanets has guaranteed coverage, but why did he choose Rothko to deface? What does his partner Marcin Lodya think of his act?

To deliberately alter another artist’s work is one of the few artworld misdemeanours. It is still a line over which artists do not usually cross. So why has Umanets in this case? ¬†Robert Rauschenberg may have erased a de Kooning drawing back in the Fifties, but he had been given it for that purpose. Ownership is the key difference. In this society that is vital. Should it be?

Yellowism appears to be a neo-dada movement, neither art nor anti-art, shown in chambers, because ‘ of its nature [it] cannot exist or be presented in an art gallery.’ It is a movement in the manner of early twentieth century artists groups, who issued a manifesto and then fell out with each other. We will see what Yellowism holds, although Umanets may have an inkling of what his future holds.

When we have collated the responses from Umanets we will post again.

4 Comments on Yellowism, Umanets and the Tate Rothko

  1. I think there is something indefinably “sacred” about works of art which seems to be universally accepted and so in defacing Rothko’s work, Umanets has insulted not only the artist but the public as well. It is unfair of him to lay claim to the work by tagging his name and his blog. Admittedly, I have not read-up on Yellowism and so there be some fundamental element that I am missing which may change my opinion, however, as I stand now Umanets move seems to be nothing but provocative… Does this alone make a statement?

  2. Umanets strikes me as somone who is craving publicity.
    He hasn’t earned the right to tag the Rothko; might be different if he were Damien Hirst or Banksy, but as an unknown it makes his action crass self-publicism.
    It is not for him to say that he’s “added to” the Rothko either, that’s for us to decide.
    For me, he’s a vandal and a very naughty boy

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