A conquest for the most intense black paint
By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
The world’s hunt for the most pigmented pigments has greater stakes than I had ever imagined—and much more drama.
It’s not hard to understand the fascination with extremely pigmented colours, however, the most sought out “colour” is actually a shade: black. To be clear, it’s not just any black… it’s the blackest black.
Originally invented by British company Surrey NanoSystems, when light strikes Vantablack, the light becomes trapped in miniscule vertical tubes within the paint. It has been titled the blackest man-made substance in the world—absorbing 99.96 percent of light—and is incredibly expensive to make. Although it was originally “developed for satellite-borne blackbody calibration systems” according to the Surrey NanoSystems website, world famous British sculptor and artist Anish Kapoor (responsible for the Chicago “Bean” sculpture) has had exclusive rights to Vantablack.
In retaliation, British artist Stuart Semple created the “world’s pinkest pink,” with a cheeky catch: Anish Kapoor is legally forbidden from using it.
Always the charmer, Kapoor responded with an Instagram post of his middle finger dipped in the pink paint with the post captioned “Up yours.”
If the art community was angry before, they were furious now. Instagram users called Kapoor’s actions petty. Christian Furr, the youngest painter to be commissioned to make a portrait of the queen, stated to the Daily Mail that “We should be able to use it—it isn’t right that it belongs to one man.” Furr continued by saying that “All the best artists have had a thing for pure black—Turner, Manet, Goya. This black is like dynamite in the art world.”
With immense support from artists and fans around the world, Stuart Semple received a multitude of messages urging him to create a rival black that could be available to the public.
With a team, he created “Black 2.0,” which was extremely black, but still fell short of Kapoor’s absolute void of a paint. Eventually, Semple started a Kickstarter to raise enough money to really challenge Kapoor’s black, and he raised £478,923—passing the original £25,000 goal. Although “Black 3.0” is still in the manufacturing process, it will be available to buy and ship to anyone, anywhere in the world.
Do note the small text, though: “By backing this project you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not backing this on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this material will not make its way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.