The Story Behind the Blackest Black and Why Two Artists Are Feuding Over It
Feuds always manage to make their way into various circumstances—and even the art world isn’t exempt. Take Michelangelo’s long-standing rivalry with Raphael, Matisse’s silent war with Picasso, or Van Gogh and Gauguin’s heated relationship (which purportedly led to the former’s ear being severed).
Recently, two artists—Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple—have engaged in a feud over a
In 2016, Kapoor was heavily criticized after he licensed Vantablack’s exclusive use. The British sculptor did so by simply approaching the pigment’s producers, NanoSystem. Artist Christian Furr, who initially planned to use Vantablack in a series of paintings, says "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. Other artists who thought the same include Semple, a contemporary British artist.
In response to the exclusive license, Semple protested by making “the world’s pinkest pink” to give Kapoor, in his words, “a taste of his own medicine.” Semple’s pinkest pink is available to all (except Kapoor) for £3.99. A note on Semple’s selling page reads: “By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.”
Shortly after the release of the “pinkest pink,” Kapoor posted a photo of Semple’s pigment with his middle finger dipped in the fluorescent shade. The photo was then captioned with “Up yours #pink” which added fuel to the flame.
The feud has since snowballed into a
On April 2017, Semple announced his newest pigment, Black 2.0, a material to counter Kapoor’s Vantablack. Black 2.0 claims to be the best flat, matte, black paint on the planet. And although it’s not as dark as Vantablack, it is a cheaper and better-scented alternative. (Vantablack supposedly has an unpleasant chemical
Black 2.0 appears to be Semple's final move, and a year later, it seems the feud has fizzled out.