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Artists’ Dispute Over the World’s Darkest Pigment Just Got Even More Heated

via Gizmodo

After artist Anish Kapoor (the sculptor behind that big silvery bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park) gained exclusive rights to the blackest known substance on earth, Vantablack, many other artists have been up in arms as it’s the first time in history all artists (except one) have been banned from using a substance.

You might be wondering what the big deal is. Well, Vantablack was created by the British company Surrey NanoSystems and it absorbs 99.965 percent of all visible radiation making it the darkest substance ever created—a remarkable feat of science. Originally used in only the military and aerospace sector, in February Surrey NanoSystems made the substance available for other purposes—like art.

But it was only one lucky artist that would be able to use the rare substance for aesthetic purposes. According to Surrey NanoSystems, Kapoor maintains exclusivity because Vantablack “requires specialist application to achieve its aesthetic effect. In addition, the coating’s performance beyond the visible spectrum results in it being classified as a dual-use material that is subject to UK Export Control.”

Due to the special training involved in using the substance and the very limited quantities allowed to be exported, Surry NanoSystems decided to train one studio—specifically Kapoor’s studio. Though, it’s unknown why he was the chosen one.

So inevitably, the exclusive and secretive relationship with Kapoor has left other artists pretty upset. The hashtag #SharetheBlack has been getting a lot of attention on Instagram and Twitter and one artist in particular decided to take action. Stuart Semple is a British artist based out of London and Dorset and known for his large-scale canvases and big public art works. He doesn’t believe art mediums should be restricted in their uses.

Semple gave Gizmodo his thoughts on the subject:

He’s [Kapoor] signed an exclusive agreement with the creators of VantaBlack which blocks any other artist from using it. Nobody forced him or them to enter into an agreement like that. It’s a heinous ego driven pact which stops every other artist after him from working with the inventors of Vantablack on art projects. This is the first time in history all artists have been banned from using a substance. Nobody else is banned only artists that’s a very dodgy way to be going about things.

He decided to create his own pigment, The World’s Pinkest Pink, which isn’t actually sure to be the pinkest pink in the world, but could very well be. Semple made it available for sale on his website, noting one very important detail: You could not purchase The World’s Pinkest Pink if you are named Anish Kapoor, or if you plan to give the pigment to Anish Kapoor.

*Note: 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 it’s way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.

A few days ago, Kapoor responded to Semple’s new pigment with an Instagram post:

Up yours #pink

A photo posted by Anish Kapoor (@dirty_corner) on

To which Semple responded:

peace!!!! ✌🏻️ & 💖 #sharetheblack

A video posted by Stuart Semple (@stuartsemple) on

That’s right, looks like Semple got his hands on some Vantablack. Though that can’t be confirmed for obvious reasons, Semple did comment on the back and forth between he and Kapoor explaining it is more “a petty hissy fit than a feud. Anish is the one that’s deprived the artistic community of the black, stolen our pink and given us the middle finger, we’ve just been making cool brightly coloured glittery stuff.”

[via Gizmodo]


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