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Rothko Mural Defaced At London's Tate Modern

10/07/12 05:00 PM ET  AP

LONDON -- A vandal scrawled graffiti on a mural by modern American master Mark Rothko at London's Tate Modern on Sunday.

The mural, one of Rothko's Seagram series, was defaced when a visitor to the Tate applied "a small area of black paint with a brush to the painting," the gallery said.

A photograph posted on Twitter by a gallery visitor showed words, including the name Vladimir, scrawled in the corner of the painting. The gallery, which attracts 5 million visitors a year, was briefly closed Sunday after the incident.

Tate Modern said police were investigating.

The graffiti on the painting also appears to read "a potential piece of yellowism." According to an online manifesto, Yellowism is an artistic movement run by two people named Vladimir Umanets and Marcin Lodyga.

This is not the first time an artwork at Tate Modern has been interfered with. In 2000, two Chinese performance artists attempted to urinate on Marcel Duchamp's urinal sculpture "Fountain."

Rothko, who died in 1970, is renowned for his large abstract paintings featuring bold blocks of color. The defaced painting was one of a series intended to decorate the Four Seasons restaurant in New York. Rothko changed his mind about the commission and gave the works to galleries, including the Tate.

Earlier this year, Rothko's "Orange, Red, Yellow" sold for almost $87 million at auction in New York.

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  • Untitled (Man and Two Women in a Pastoral Setting), c. 1940, National Gallery of Art, 1986.43.53. All images are from Mark Rothko, The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950, Skira Rizzoli, 2012. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • Untitled, 1941-42, National Gallery of Art, 1986.43.35 All images are from Mark Rothko, The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950, Skira Rizzoli, 2012. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • Hierarchical Birds, 1944, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, 1986.43.20 All images are from Mark Rothko, The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950, Skira Rizzoli, 2012. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • Sea Fantasy, 1946, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, 1986.43.8 All images are from Mark Rothko, The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950, Skira Rizzoli, 2012. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • Untitled, 1949, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, 1986.43.138 All images are from Mark Rothko, The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950, Skira Rizzoli, 2012. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • No. 8, 1949, oil and mixed media on canvas, National Gallery of Art, 1986.43.147 All images are from Mark Rothko, The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950, Skira Rizzoli, 2012. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • Untitled, 1949, watercolor on paper, National Gallery of Art, 1986.43.257 All images are from Mark Rothko, The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950, Skira Rizzoli, 2012. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • Untitled, 1950, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, 1986.43.159 All images are from Mark Rothko, The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950, Skira Rizzoli, 2012. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • All images are from Mark Rothko, The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950, Skira Rizzoli, 2012. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

From: "Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950." Skira Rizzoli Press.
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