Wlodzimierz Umaniec is “plainly an intelligent man,” Judge Chapple said and then, sentenced the 26-year-old
artist vandal philosopher Yellowist to two years in prison.
Earlier this year, unbeknownst to his partner in Yellowism Marcin Lodyga, Umaniec walked up to a $8-$15 million dollar Black on Maroon Rothko at the Tate Museum in London and signed it wish his name in black marker and writing “A potential piece of Yellowism” on it. There was much pomp and outrage. I stalked Lodyga into talking to me, resulting in one of oddest interviews of my life.
“Like Duchamp who took objects from reality and turned them into art, we can go a step farther and take objects from art and put them into the third context,” Lodyga tried to explain. “They are not works of art anymore. They become pieces of Yellowism. Art already exists. Yellowism is a new context.” Hence, they’re neither artists nor vandals, see? Lodyga talked about how making something — which could be anything — into a piece of Yellowism would transport it into a Yellowist chamber and so forth. He meant that, generally, all its meaning/physical properties/history/cultural weight would be flattened to the Yellowists’ completely arbitrary meaning — the color yellow. It’s just yellow, it means nothing else and is, therefore, free. We talked about artistic precedent, conceptual intent, Nazis, Egypt, world domination… It was quite engaging, but it didn’t seem like it would stand up in court.
It didn’t. The Judge declared it ”abundantly clear” that Umaniec’s actions “were entirely deliberate, planned and intentional” and while Yellowism is… uh… Yellowism, it was “wholly and utterly unacceptable to promote it by damaging a work of art.” The highly specialized repairs will take over $300,000 and 20 months to complete.
Is Umaniec’s two-year sentence outrageous? Well, yes. I won’t go as far as to say as that he was being persecuted against for practicing his beliefs (regardless of how painfully abstract ), but two years seems rather harsh (regardless of the Yellowists’ bombastic, unrepentant public personas.) The Judge emphasized that the Rothko was “a gift to the nation.” Where does that Polish gent get off, huh? Or something like that.
A fine would have been more reasonable and lucrative. Serving out his sentence in a potentially Yellowist chamber, Umaniec will been martyr (of sorts) and Yellowism will henceforth be legitimized.
What’s even more amusing is that reporters have located someone by the name of “Ben Smith” outside the London courthouse — a Yellowist disciple, who said, “Everything is equal. Everything is art. Everything is a potential piece of Yellowism.”