Black is the new black and artist Anish Kapoor claims to own it | Arts | DW | 04.03.2016
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Black is the new black and artist Anish Kapoor claims to own it

To the chagrin of fellow artists, British sculptor Anish Kapoor has bought the exclusive rights to the blackest black imaginable. It's not the first time an artist has laid claim to a color.

Anish Kapoor, whose huge works of public art are landmarks in cities from London to Chicago, has snapped up the exclusive rights to a deep, dark black color called Vantablack.

Anish Kapoor, Copyright: picture alliance/dpa/Maxppp/A. Viannet

Anish Kapoor is "drawn to exotic materials"

"It's so black you almost can't see it," the Indian-born artist told BBC Radio 4. "It has a kind of unreal quality, and I've always been drawn to rather exotic materials because of what they make you feel."

Vantablack absorbs 99.96 percent of light, making it, according to its British manufacturer NanoSystems, "virtually impossible to see."

It isn't simply black paint, either. According to the Nanosystems website, it's a "functionalized forest of millions upon millions of incredibly small tubes made of carbon." Vantablack was originally devised for military and aeronautical purposes.

Kapoor's acquisition has the international artist community up in arms.

Art community blue over new black

Portraitist Christian Furr told the "Mail on Sunday" newspaper that other artists should be able to use the color, too. "It isn't right that it belongs to one man." All the best artists, Furr argued, "have had a thing for pure black," adding that "this black is like dynamite in the art world."

"The Guardian" newspaper also stoked with debate with the headline, "Can an artist ever really own a color?"

The manufacturer of the carbon nanotube coating says Vantablack requires specialist application, so the company chose to license the coating to Kapoor's studio for use in the field of art, but not in "any other sector."

The signature color of the Blue Man Group, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa/XAMAX

Blue Man Group makes use of an exclusive matte blue

Preoccupied with color

It's not the first time an artist has claimed exclusive ownership of a color.

French artist Yves Klein registered a paint formula of a deep shade of a matte blue under the name International Klein Blue (IKB) in 1960.

True to its name, the Blue Man Group performance artists, for instance, use IKB.

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