Back in 2016, Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor sparked controversy amongst artists when he acquired exclusive rights to the blackest of black pigments known as Vantablack. The material was developed by Surrey NanoSystems, a UK firm, with military purposes in mind but the incredible paint intrigued artists, as well. Prior to obtaining the rights to be the only artists able to work with Vantablack, Kapoor had been experimenting with 3D works and ‘super black’ paints. Gaining a monopoly on the pigment, though, left a bad taste in the mouth of artists around the world. ‘Now obviously all the art community thought that was utterly wrong and rotten,’ said artist Stuart Semple in a newly released video.
That video created by Semple is part of a Kickstarter asking for artists and individuals everywhere to help raise funds to create what they’re calling Black 3.0 – or the newest blackest black out there. Black 3.0 is the second of Semple’s ‘super black’ paints. His Black 2.0 was an absolute hit and has been distributed to artists for a number of years now. To get Black 3.0 off the ground, though, Semple asked for anyone interested to pre-order their tube of Black 3.0 to cover the costs of the facility necessary to produce the high-tech pigment. To date, the goal of $32,816 has been nearly tripled after reaching its goal in only 38 hours and currently sits at around $177,223 and it’s getting more and more popular every minute. Black 3.0 absorbs an impressive 98-99% of visible light nearing the 99.96% light absorption of Vantablack. When the pigments are used, they create the feeling of a black hole as 3D objects coated in the black pigments disappear into the black surface behind them.
There’s one major twist to the saga of the feud over ‘super black’ paints and it centres on Semble’s commitment to driving home the point of elitism in the art-making community: Semble’s paints are available to everyone except Kapoor.
When Kapoor decided to keep Vantablack for his own personal use, Semple, who has been making pigments for more than 20 years, decided to make the world’s pinkest pink as a response. He used his pigment to exemplify that art and art materials should be accessible to all artists selling it for about £3.99 – the cost of making the pigment. When buying the pink pigment, Semple required that all buyers sign an agreement stating that they were not Kapoor or affiliated with him to keep the pink out of the hands of the artist. Soon, though, Kapoor fired back with an Instagram post of his middle finger coated in Semple’s pink.
Thus, the feud between Kapoor and artists like Semple continues on. It is uncertain how Kapoor might respond to the production of Black 3.0 but until Kapoor relinquishes the rights to Vantablack, there most likely isn’t an end to the battle any time soon.