Anish Kapoor – The Vantablack Feud

Anish Kapoor – Cloud Gate is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in Chicago. Image credit: Mariano Mantel

It’s not often that colors are at the heart of controversies, however famous Indian-born British artist, Anish Kapoor managed to do exactly that. His studio purchased the exclusive rights to the artistic use of Surrey NanoSystem’s “blackest black”, Vantablack coating. It’s safe to say the art world did not sit idly by. At the heart of the feud is the notion of exclusivity, and not necessarily exclusivity in appearance, but specifically the exclusivity of a color. So who is Anish Kapoor and what happened?

Born in Mumbai in 1954, Anish Kapoor is a British sculptor known for his use of abstract forms, and his love for rich colors and polished surfaces. Upon leaving school, Kapoor spent a few years on a Kibbutz in Israel, where he decided to stay and train to become an engineer. Within 6 months, the realization that life as an engineer wasn’t for him had dawned and he decided to pursue a career in art, in London instead. After completing his studies in art, the young artist returned to his native India for a visit. On this trip, he gained a new perspective on the country, finding a new appreciation for its colors, shapes and textures.

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@peepso_user_75(Kate Hendrickson)
I must say that this is an interesting topic for discussion. Artists once mixed their own colors from scratch and I would guess that an aquamarine blue by DaVinci would be different than an aquamarine blue by Micheangelo for example. As to Kappor wanting to control the black that came out of technology and not sharing it...

I know the ceramicists guard their personal glazes with total secrecy. Especially in the height of art pottery studios in the last century where once closed, the recipes disappeared and to this day the glazes can't be replicated. The French Massier pottery is an example of iridescent glazes that were exclusive to them.

For an artist to challenge this and make the colosr he creates available to everyone but Kappor is amusing.

I look at it this way. You have a color. Every artist will use it in their own way. So if you are that famous and rich from your creative endeavors and don't want to share a color, what are you afraid of? That another artist will use that color in a way you haven't thought of, another artist will create something with it that you perceive is better than your work or you are just a selfish asshole?

Or as the ceramic studios of the past and ceramicists today hold their glaze recipes in secrecy, is it a business decision so competitors don't have an edge? This I understand.

But if the above premise is true and the black is exclusive to you Kappor, why did you not keep the source and information about it secret. Why did the world have to know? The business decision from my stand point would be the secrecy as the ceramicists did to avoid knockoffs.

@peepso_user_22(Jay Zerbe)
a well thought out, and informative response. personally, I think it was a publicity stunt on Kappor's part. I guess you never can be rich enough of vain enough.
@peepso_user_75(Kate Hendrickson)
@peepso_user_22(Jay Zerbe) We may never know Kappor's motivation.
2 weeks ago
@peepso_user_22(Jay Zerbe)
@peepso_user_75(Kate Hendrickson) true. but I'm ok with that. 😉