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Vantablack is a substance made of carbon nanotubes. Scientists at Surrey NanoSystems invented it in 2014. They invented it so scientists and engineers could use it in inventions. In 2016, artists started fighting over Vantablack, for example Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple.[1]

Vantablack can absorb 99.965 percent of the light that hits it. Because it absorbs so much light, it looks very dark and black. In 2014, it was the blackest black thing in the world. It could make a flat circle look like a deep hole. Artist Anish Kapoor thought Vantablack would be good in art. In 2016, Kapoor made a deal with Surrey NanoSystems. He bought the exclusive rights to use Vantablack in art. This means Kapoor is the only artist allowed to use that black paint.[2]

Some artists did not like that Kapoor wanted to be the only artist who could use Vantablack paint. For example, Christian Furr said "All the best artists have had a thing for pure black – Turner, Manet, Goya... 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."[2]

Another artist Stuart Semple invented another pigment in 2016. He named it "Pinkest Pink". Semple sold Pinkest Pink to other artists on his website. But he added words to the order form in which his buyers had to promise not to give any Pinkest Pink to Anish Kapoor:[2]

By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make its way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.

Semple said: "I thought I might sell one or two, but the website itself would be almost like a piece of performance art, and the pink jar would be like an artwork." This means he did not think many people would care that he was not selling his pink paint to Anish Kapoor.[2] He also said he did it "to raise a dialogue in a debate about ownership and elitism and privilege and access to the arts".[1]

Anish Kapoor found out about Semple's rule. He posted a picture on Instagram. The picture had a jar of Pinkest Pink and a middle finger (an insulting hand signal) covered in Pinkest Pink.[1][2]

Many people saw Kapoor's Instagram picture. They wrote to Semple asking him to make a black paint like Vantablack. In 2017, Semple made black pigments called "Better Black", "Black 2.0" and "Black 3.0". He made a glitter paint called "Diamond Dust". He would not sell any to Anish Kapoor. Semple's black paint was not as black as Vantablack, but it was very, very black. It was also much easier to use and cost much less money. One tube of Black 3.0 cost ₤21.99.[2][3] Semple also opened an art store in London and said he would not let Anish Kapoor come inside it.[3][4]

Anish Kapoor told Buzzfeed news that his lawyers would take action against Semple because Semple was using his name so people would buy paint from him. Semple said later that Kapoor never sued him.[1]

In 2019, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology made a paint even blacker than Vantablack. This paint could absorb 99.995 percent of light. MIT artist Diemut Strebe made artwork using this paint: Strebe painted a $2 million yellow diamond black with this paint. This made the diamond almost disappear. Strebe named the artwork The Redemption of Vanity. It is at the New York Stock Exchange.[2][5][6]

Strebe and the scientists said "The project can also be interpreted as a statement against British artist Anish Kapoor's purchase of" Vantablack. They said any artist who wanted could use their new paint.[2]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "The 'blackest' black: How a color controversy sparked a years-long art feud". CNN. August 20, 2021. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Truman Chambers (January 28, 2022). "The Vantablack Controversy: Anish Kapoor vs. Stuart Semple". The Collector. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Black 3.0: Anish Kapoor and the art world's pettiest, funniest dispute". August 9, 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  4. Simon Rushton (August 4, 2019). "Turner prize winner Sir Anish Kapoor banned from art shop in row over blackest black and pinkest pink". iNews UK. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  5. Jennifer Chu (September 12, 2019). "MIT engineers develop 'blackest black' material to date". MIT News Office. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  6. "MIT Art-Science Project Makes $2 Million Diamond "Disappear" at the NY Stock Exchange" (PDF) (Press release). Arts at MIT and LJ West Diamonds. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 8, 2021. Retrieved April 7, 2022.