Museums News United Kingdom

Rothko painting defaced at Tate Modern

Police investigate attack on Seagram mural canvas

Tate's vandalised Rothko posted on social media

A Mark Rothko painting on display at London's Tate Modern was defaced today (7 October) by a member of the public.

A museum visitor who witnessed the incident wrote about it on Twitter just minutes after it happened and posted a picture of the damaged canvas.

"This guy calmly walked up, took out a marker pen and tagged [the canvas]," tweeted Tim Wright, adding later that the vandal "sat [in the gallery] for a while then just went for [the canvas] and made a quick exit."

In a statement a Tate spokeswoman said: "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." The police are currently investigating the incident.

Other twitter users reported that the gallery was shut down and evacuated after the incident. This could not be independently verified.

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9 Oct 12
0:41 CET


I am glad that you acknowledge your limitations Carl, and everyone doesn't need to understand everything in this life. However, I think the point is that Rothko liked it that way, and that is how it should be left. Our graphitti guy should make his own canvas, just the way he wants it, and stay the hell away from the work of others.

8 Oct 12
15:27 CET


I guess the vandal must have thought the that the work would look better with his "art" on top. It certainly was not very appealing as it was. Why anyone thinks that this or any other modern art work is worth anything is beyond me.

9 Oct 12
0:39 CET


Where was the Gallery invigilator whose job is to stop this kind of thing happening? And if the invigilator has too many rooms to look after, then the Tate's security policy is seriously flawed - and they ought to be fined. A public gallery has a huge responsibility to properly protect its works on display, as indeed all of its collection which is partially (at least) purchased or maintained by public money for the appreciation by members of the public.

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