A man has appeared in Camberwell Green magistrates court charged with wilfully damaging a Mark Rothko painting at London’s Tate Modern gallery. The painting part of a group of wall murals commissioned by Seagrams were donated to Tate in 1969 the year of the artist’s death. Wlodzimierz Umaniec, 26, who watched the hearing via video link pleaded not guilty to criminal damage. Mr Umaniec, a Polish national of no fixed address also known as Vladimir Umanets, was remanded in custody. Mr Umaniec’s next court hearing was scheduled for 16 October. Tate Modern closed for a short period after the incident and reopened in mid afternoon.
Rothko is one of the most important artists of his generation. He is associated with the New York School, a group of painters that emerged during the 1940s as a new collective voice in American art. During a career that spanned five decades, he created a new and impassioned form of abstract Expressionist painting. Rothko’s work is characterised by rigorous attention to formal elements such as color, shape, balance, depth, composition, and scale; yet, he refused to consider his paintings solely in these terms. He explained: It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. Rothko is one of the most important post-war artists of his generation, His work has sold for tens of millions of pounds.
Rothko’s Orange, red, yellow was sold for $86.9 million (£53.8m) when it went under the hammer at Christie’s in New York. In May 2012, a record price for the artist. His work is highly valued by both collectors and museums internationally.