Culture / Art Republik

Sculptor Anish Kapoor Monopolizes Vantablack

Artistic community rages over the sculptor holding the exclusive rights to the famously black substance.

Mar 04, 2016 | By AFPRelaxnews

Vantablack, the substance that is said to ‘look like staring into a black hole’, has had its exclusive rights bought by the sculptor Anish Kapoor. Originally used for military and aeronautical purposes, Vantablack absorbs 99.96% of light, and is made of a ‘forest’ of millions and millions incredibly small carbon nanotubes (A surface area of 1 square cm contains around 1,000 million nanotubes). Other artists, who originally planned to use the substance for their own works, are taking umbrage at Kapoor’s ‘monopoly’.

No, it doesn’t seem like he’s stealing the color itself (which would be particularly difficult given that the world is painted black every single day) but certain portraitists, like Christian Furr, have voiced their anger that they can’t use the material now. “We should be able to use it. It isn’t a right that belongs to one man”, Furr told the Mail on Sunday newspaper. Precedents of artists who have tried to lay claim to a color include Yves Klein, who became famous for his International Klein Blue, now used by the Blue Man Group.

On the other hand, Vantablack seems like a particularly hard substance to make use of. It has to be grown in a specially designed Chemical Vapour Deposition chamber under an array of powerful lamps that raise the surface temperature to 430 Celsius or higher. Surrey Nanosystems has also noted that the substance is easily damaged by any direct impact or abrasion and requires a specialist’s application. In an advertising campaign, Lynx coated one of their one of their cans with Vantablack, but it took 400 hours to produce.

Surrey Nanosystems choice to license the substance only to Kapoor’s studio may be logistical, trusting the substance to the artist that may have the resources and ambition to use it properly but the company doesn’t want to comment on the debate being stirred in the art world. “This debate is for the artistic community, we don’t want to get involved. We are scientists” the firm replied.


Kapoor, in the meantime, seems to be enjoying his acquisition. He posted a black photo on Instagram with the remark “Kapoor Black”. It’s not clear whether this was done out of pure jest or artistic arrogance, but the artistic community probably isn’t going to take it kindly.

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