Anish Kapoor receives exclusive rights to blackest black in the world

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Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor has acquired exclusive rights to the revolutionary Vantablack pigment, said to be the blackest shade of black ever created.

Kapoor – who designed the Orbit tower for the London Olympics – is currently the only person in the world who can paint using this colour, and has been doing so since 2014.

Developed by British company NanoSystems, Vantablack is composed of a series of microscopic vertical tubes. When light strikes Vantablack, it becomes trapped instead of bouncing off and is continually deflected between the tubes.

The pigment is currently the blackest substance known – so dark that it absorbs 99.96 per cent of light.

Although originally developed for military purposes and astronomy equipment, NanoSystems has confirmed to the Guardian that Kapoor alone can paint using Vantablack.

Anish Kapoor gets rights to blackest pigment

However this has sparked outrage amongst other artists, including English painter Christian Furr – who told the Mail on Sunday that he felt Kapoor was "monopolising the material".

"I've never heard of an artist monopolising a material. Using pure black in an artwork grounds it," he 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," he added.

Although he didn't discuss his ownership of the pigment, Kapoor explained its distinctive properties on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It's effectively like a paint, it's so black you almost can't see it," he said. "It has a kind of unreal quality and I've always been drawn to rather exotic materials because of what they make you feel."



This is not the first time an artist has claimed exclusive ownership of a particular colour. In 1960, French artist Yves Klein patented a deep shade of a matt blue, subsequently named International Klein Blue (IKB).

Since Klein died in 1962, the colour has been used by Derek Jarman used in his film Blue, and by performance artists The Blue Man Group.

Anish Kapoor was born in India in 1954, and came to Britain in the 1970s. His previous works include a series of womb-like orbs in the Paris' Grand Palais, and an inflatable mobile concert hall for earthquake-affected areas.

  • Mark

    I’m afraid my heart may lay claim to that record.

    • amsam

      Well played, sir.

  • I’m not sure, it looks to me like it’s very very very very very dark blue.

    • ivor hession

      First thing that popped into my head.

  • Scott Froth

    Sick guy. Can he paint his Arcelor Mittal Orbit that colour so we can’t see that bludclart thing any more please?

  • Jan Limon

    Black paint matters.

  • Michael Szajna

    “This colour is all mine, and you can’t use it.” Anish Kapoor is the same as T-Mobile, a capitalist piece of ****.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I’m not sure this is as desirable an art effect as the fits are being thrown about it. Something that black reflects back nearly nothing, so there is no visual texture, no light AND dark, but just dark.

    But then, I wonder, how does it mix with other colours?

  • sam

    I may or may not own the rights to the word “the”.

    • amsam

      But the word “the” is a lot easier to manufacture than that paint is.

  • marcus lyall

    Spinal Tap got there first.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46kXH6GGtT0

  • Hannah Vice

    This is actually not true. The British artist, Robert McNally has been using this material for two years http://www.robertmcnally.co.uk/work/#/ultrablack-shyster/ Also, there are three works on display at Aeroplastics Contemporary Brussels. http://www.aeroplastics.net/home-exhibition-currently.html

  • Travinski

    Does anybody know where to find the mentioned Radio 4 story? I would be very interested in hearing his comments.

  • Fabio Venneri

    It looks gold and white to me.

  • palominoX

    Before Kapoor bought the rights, NanoSystems, who created the tubule pigment, owned them. So if artists are claiming that nobody should have the ‘right’ to own their own creations, nor have the right to sell their creations (and those rights) to anyone they choose, well the art world is in quite a bit of trouble right there.

    Why can’t we just ALL use anyone else’s material or artistic creation, freely and at any time for whatever we want? Yeah, good question, art world.

  • This is so friggin’ rude. Does he think he’s the only artist on this earth?

  • Ray Thomson

    Can’t see that it’s all that black.

  • Ronald Mc Donald

    He can stick it where the sun don’t shine!

  • H-J

    What’s so special about tinfoil with a hole in the middle?

  • Jess Thinkin

    Not certain what benefit accrues to ol’ Anish here but, if he’d a created the most purple-ish purple… Whoa!

  • Well, good ideas are exploited, bad ones are patented. The patent system has gone completely mad. It was designed for a good purpose, avoiding everyone to reinvent the same thing and encourage inventors to let others use their work while still making revenue out of them.

    But the exclusivity that it carries has instead created monopoles. It would be nice if patents were automatically lost after two years without a few licensees, it would force inventors to really exploit their work instead of monopolising it.

  • stevenla

    McDonald’s owns the rights to “their” yellow and red.

  • Doubtful Dodger

    It’s sucking me into the screen! Hypnotising in a strange way.

  • sibz

    I’m just excited to see how he’s going to use it!

  • ‘Jen’ Johnson

    Checked out the Kickstarter for this. T-shirts are available in XXS, or XXXS, so any eight-year-old or supermodel you know can easily wear them. Everyone else? Not so much.

  • Fuligin is the colour blacker than black: look it up. Fictional writing, late 20th Century, Gene Wolfe. And well worth the read.