“A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. It dies by the same token. It is therefore a risky and unfeeling act to send it out into the world. How often it must be permanently impaired by the eyes of the vulgar and the cruelty of the impotent who would extend the affliction universally!” – Mark Rothko
The Russian-American artist famous for his ‘multiforms’ produced a multitude of abstract and color field compositions that earned him both fame and fortune. Coincidently, on the day he committed suicide, his ‘Seagram Murals’ were on their way to the Tate Gallery where they would be displayed. I say coincidently because, a few days ago, one of these murals suffered what he himself had called ‘eyes of the vulgar and the cruelty of the impotent’. Here is what happened as the Tate put it:
“We can confirm that at 15.25 this afternoon there was an incident at Tate Modern in which a visitor defaced one of Rothko’s Seagram murals by applying a small area of black paint with a brush to the painting.” – Tate spokesperson, October 7th, 2012
Rothko joined a long list of artists whose works have been vandalized: from old master like Michelangelo and Rembrandt and all the way to names like Tracey Emin. The man who defaced Rothko’s painting had something to say about his act: “Art allows us to take what someone’s done and put a new message on it.”
Earlier this year, Rothko’s ‘Red, Yellow, Orange’ had sold for $ 87 million in an auction in NY.