The War of the Darkest Black

(Art world drama!)

Story time:

In 2014, Surrey NanoSystems announced that they have engineered a shade of black (Surrey NanoSystems’ Vantablack) that absorbs 99.96% of incident radiation, and holds the record for darkest man-made substance.  A sample of it can vary from £100 to £560 if you buy from Surrey NanoSytems.

A Surrey NanoSystems technician demonstrating a three-dimensional bowl-shaped object spray-coated with the paint. Image courtesy Surrey NanoSystems

This is where it gets interesting. As soon it was release, a celebrated British artist, Anish Kapoor – who sculptured Cloud Gate (known as the Bean) in Chicago- requested Surrey NanoSystems to work exclusively with him denying anyone else to use the Ventablack for artistic purposes. This obviously sent the artistic community into a frenzy accusing Anish Kapoor of being narcissistic, and that one person should not be given exclusive rights to a new material.

Anish Kapoor posing with Ventablack and receive backlash from the commentators with the hashtag #sharetheblack (Image from Instagram)

Then arrived Stuart Semple, another British artist who specialises in large scale canvases incorporating text and found imagery. He is also an advocate for the relationship between art and mental health, and was his performance; Happy Cloud received the Happiness Hero medal by the UN.

Long story short, Stuart Semple thought... ‘Wait, art should be accessible. You can keep your Ventablack, Anish Kapoor! I’m creating my own!’ (Thoughts speculated by author) and he created Black 1.0. Since then, he has improved it to create Black 2.0 and the latest of the collection, Black 3.0 which is now out of stock.


Black 2.0 (Image from Culture Hustle)


Black 3.0 (Image from Culture Hustle)

Stuart Semple made his products available to everyone EXCEPT Anish Kapoor and it says on every product page that you may purchase but you cannot be Anish Kapoor nor be buying it for him. He even ends it with #sharetheblack.

Disclaimer! (Image from Culture Hustle)

Wait. Stuart Semple didn’t stop there; he went on to create The World’s Pinkest Pink in powder form and still made it inaccessible to Anish Kapoor. HOWEVER! Anish Kapoor managed to get his hands on the Pink and posted an image which we cannot possibly put up on the college website (but please feel free to go search ‘Anish Kapoor Pink’)  where he is sticking a finger into the Stuart Semple pink.

The World’s Pinkest Pink (Image from Culture Hustle)

Did it end there? Nooooooooo.

Stuart Semple then made The World's Most Glittery Glitter, which the best natural glitter in the world. The cool thing? IT’S MADE OUT OF GLASS! Yes, you heard it. It’s tiny tiny tiny glass particles (The page really warns people against inhaling it!) reflecting light from all angles, and making it very diamond like.  We also believe... well if Anish Kapoor tries to stick his finger in this, that’s not going to end well.

Diamond Dust (Image from Culture Hustle)

Well, there we are. While this all seems like a full on war, Stuart Semple is simply asking Anish Kapoor to share the Vantablack, and is not being vicious in any form or manner. Stuart Semple is continuing to create more colours such as The World’s Glowiest Glow pigment and the cool colour changing pigment, Phaze, and you can find them all on Culture Hustle.

The World’s Glowiest Glow pigment (Image from Culture Hustle)


Phaze (Image from Culture Hustle)

Stuart Semple and Anish Kapoor are brilliant innovative designers, and they both should be looked for inspiration. However, if you want to get your hands on a very cool water colour palette named The World’s Colouriest Water Colours, then go towards Stuart Semple!


World’s Colouriest Water Colours (Image from Culture Hustle)