Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" (2006) following the artist's repainting in Vantablack (photo courtesy City of Chicago)

Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” (2006) following the artist’s recent recoating in Vantablack (photo courtesy City of Chicago)

Taking advantage of his exclusive rights to make artistic use of the high-tech, light-absorbing material Vantablack, the British artist Anish Kapoor has covered the entire surface of his Chicago public sculpture “Cloud Gate” (2006) with it. The result, a looming black orb that neutralizes 99.965% of the radiation that hits it, is a far cry from the mirrored selfie beacon that Chicagoans and tourists have come to love.

“The public has had a decade to interact with the reflective surface of ‘Cloud Gate,’ and I felt it was time for a change,” Kapoor told Hyperallergic. “Whereas the sculpture was originally about play and surface appearance, I think the Vantablack version is more about introspection, about becoming disoriented, lost, and enveloped in an overwhelming void of nothingness.”

Visitors take selfies in front of Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" (photo by @iannahlouisehimel/Instagram)

Visitors take selfies in front of Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” (photo by @iannahlouisehimel/Instagram)

In spite of the artist’s existential ideas about the revamped sculpture, the change of tone doesn’t seem to have deterred the droves of selfie-snappers. Since the artwork’s re-unveiling on Monday, tourists have been posting photos of themselves standing in front of or playfully cowering beneath the towering blob of blackness. Meanwhile, locals have taken to calling it “The Black Bean,” a twist on its prior nickname, “The Bean.”

“I didn’t believe my friends when they first told me that he’d covered the Bean in that ultra-black paint of his,” said Leigh Millicent, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, who visited the sculpture earlier this week. “But he did, and it’s really, really black. Black as midnight on a moonless night.”

Kapoor said that he was pleased with his first public experiment with Vantablack and plans to spend the next year applying it to all of his large-scale outdoor works, beginning with his London tower, the fire-engine red “ArcelorMittal Orbit” (2012). “Since I started taking on these large public projects, the world has become a much darker place,” he said. “I want my work to reflect that.”

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29 replies on “Anish Kapoor Coats “Cloud Gate” in the Darkest Black Known to Humanity”

  1. I like a lot of his work, but I still think it is a tragic waste that he is the only artist who will get to use this material. Many could put it to much better use, frankly.

    1. Don’t worry. It’s an artistic statement. You could as an artist “steal” vantablack and use it yourself as a means of creating a conversation about the exclusivity of the color or something in that direction.

    1. The reflection of what? She isn’t facing the bean. The bean isn’t in her glasses reflection.

        1. She is standing in front of the bean with her camera facing her with the bean behind her. The reflection in her glasses is the city scape facing away from the bean. the bean is not in the glasses reflection.

        2. He’s insinuating you know it’s fake because the regular, unphotoshopped bean is in the sunglasses. This isn’t true.

  2. So the girl is taking a selfie in front of a totally black back drop? You almost have to as why.

  3. “It’s like….how much more black could it be? And the answer is: none. None more black”.

  4. Just a cop out use of a revolutionary new pigment that Kapoor has the exclusive rights to use.

  5. the article is the april fool’s joke, the artist didn’t do this
    ETA: that edge on blonde’s hair tho, yeowch

  6. Absolutely incredible! Kapoor’s experimentation with Vantablack seems a natural extension of the artist’s constant manipulation of optical and aural phenomena.

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