Mumbai-born Anish Kapoor has often hit the headlines with his work, some of it controversial, but he is now in the news for securing exclusive rights to use the blackest material ever produced, angering many in the art fraternity.
The material, called Vantablack, absorbs 99.96% of the light that hits it and was originally developed for military use. Kapoor, 61, was reported to be interested in the colour for years and has now secured exclusive rights from its maker, Surrey NanoSystems.
The company launched it at Farnborough International Air Show in 2014, and described it as “super black” material with the ability to be applied to lightweight, temperature-sensitive structures such as aluminium while absorbing 99.96% of incident radiation.
Kapoor’s exclusive rights to the material has angered some in the art world, who say it should be free for anyone to use.
“I’ve never heard of an artist monopolising a material. Using pure black in an artwork grounds it,” artist Christian Furr told Daily Mail. “All the best artists have had a thing for pure black—Turner, Manet, Goya. This black is like dynamite in the art world.”
Jonathan Jones wrote in The Guardian: “It is a clever move by NanoSystems to associate their material with the greatest colourist in 21st-century art. With all due respect – not much, really – to the minor painters who are kicking up a fuss, Kapoor is an ideal artist to experiment with this freaky black.”
Jones added, “He loves deep, dark, sensual colours…This creator of sublime chromatic effects is just the guy to make Vantablack look like the new black.”
Knighted in 2013, Kapoor is best known in Britain for designing the 376-foot ArcelorMittal Orbit, built for the 2012 London Olympics.
Kapoor told Artforum website in 2014: “The nanostructure of Vantablack is so small that it virtually has no materiality. It’s thinner than a coat of paint and rests on the liminal edge between an imagined thing and an actual one. It’s a physical thing that you cannot see, giving it a transcendent or even transcendental dimension, which I think is very compelling.”