Anish Kapoor now owns the exclusive rights to the world’s darkest material — a claim that, naturally, is pissing off other artists. The material is the very sexy Vantablack, known as the blackest black out there — much blacker than a panther swimming in a tarpit, the Ayam Cemami, or your wardrobe during your middle school goth phase. A substance developed by scientists at Surrey NanoSystems in 2014, Vantablack essentially absorbs all light — 99.965% of radiation, to be exact; even when coated on a textured and shiny surface such as aluminum, it creates an abyss free of creases that many have compared to a black hole.
Kapoor had announced his intentions to use the substance shortly after its creation, but he evidently felt he had to do more and claim it as his own, in the process barring others from using it. According to the Daily Mail, the artist Christian Furr — largely known for being the youngest artist to paint the Queen of England — had intended to use the material in a series of paintings and has expressed his outrage at being restricted to using less intense blacks.
“I’ve never heard of an artist monopolizing a material,” Furr told the Daily Mail. “Using pure black in an artwork grounds it.
“All the best artists have had a thing for pure black — Turner, Manet, Goya,” he said. “This black is like dynamite in the art world. We should be able to use it. It isn’t right that it belongs to one man.”
Kapoor often plays with how we perceive the materiality of objects and has noted that his affinity for the world’s darkest material stems from its ability to disorient viewers.
“The nanostructure of Vantablack is so small that it virtually has no materiality,” he told Artforum. “It’s thinner than a coat of paint and rests on the liminal edge between an imagined thing and an actual one. It’s a physical thing that you cannot see, giving it a transcendent or even transcendental dimension, which I think is very compelling.”
Researchers over at Surrey NanoSystem are evidently big fans of Kapoor’s work; the company’s founder and chief technology officer, Ben Jensen, described his art as “infectious.”
“He has an amazing ability to see things that other people don’t and he’s famous for his work in reflections and voids,” Jensen told the New York Times in 2014. “We never imagined we would be involved in something like that, but his ideas are infectious, and my research scientists love that their work could be used this way.”
Any artists tempted to use the material anyway should be wary of the consequences: if news reaches Kapoor that someone is treading on his artistic territory, it would not be out of character for him to swiftly threaten to sue the offender.
Correction: This article originally mislabeled Vantablack as a pigment rather than a material. We regret the error, and it has been fixed.
It’s art fair season and we’re here to comfort and entertain you during this difficult time of the year with a new, biting edition of our Bingo card series.
The artifacts are estimated to date from 400 to 300 BCE, when Greek settlements existed along the northern shores of the Black Sea near Odesa.
Conversations with Leslie Barlow, Mary Griep, Alexa Horochowski, Joe Sinness, Melvin R. Smith, and Tetsuya Yamada will be accessible online or in person at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Jeremy Webster of Leicester University’s Attenborough Arts Centre reportedly pelted the statue from behind a fence.
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel and model Miranda Kerr paid off the student loans of 285 recent graduates.
Now on view in Pasadena, this exhibition explores how four artists challenged the limitations of gestural abstraction by exploiting the resonance of figural forms.
Cammie Tipton-Amini’s opinion piece “When Ukraine Was Newly Independent and Everything Was Possible” employs simplistic whataboutism that dangerously echoes Putin’s lies.
Anthony Banua-Simon’s documentary Cane Fire contrasts decades of Hollywood images of his home with its current reality.
Northwestern’s Block Museum of Art Presents A Site of Struggle: American Art against Anti-Black Violence
This new exhibition in Evanston, Illinois considers how art has been used to protest, process, mourn, and memorialize anti-Black violence for more than a century.
Michelle Segre’s art is truer to the actual world we live in than to the ideal one proposed and refined by the art world and its institutions.
The school’s 2022 cohort was encouraged to fail, get messy, and try new things.
Protesters held signs that read “If men got pregnant, you could get an abortion at an ATM” and “Abolish SCOTUS, Not Abortions!”