Tate Modern Puts Defaced Rothko Back on Display

2 minute read

The Tate Modern in London is putting Mark Rothko’s mural “Black on Maroon” back on display Tuesday, more than a year and a half after the work was defaced with black ink by an art blogger attempting to draw attention to an obscure artistic movement.

In October, 2012, Wlodzimierz Umaniec, a homeless Russian artist, stepped over a barrier at the London gallery and calmly wrote “A Potential Piece of Yellowism” in the bottom right-hand corner of the piece with dripping black ink, before signing the name “Vladimir Umanets.” The 1958 painting is thought to be worth anywhere between $8.5 million to $15 million. Umaniec later said he believed his vandalism had made the work more valuable and described “Yellowism,” a movement he helped found, to ABC News, calling it “neither art nor anti-art. It is a resignation of art.” Umaniec received a two-year jail sentence for his vandalism.

The gallery has spent the past 18 months restoring the painting, which was made with layers of oil, pigment, resin, egg and glue. The black ink had soaked through the layers to the work’s canvas in certain places. A Tate spokesman told the Telegraph that while the damage “will always remain under the surface of the work,” the painting is now considered to be in “a displayable condition.”


More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com