Apollo Magazine

Sir Anish Kapoor toys with the dark arts

Photo: Surrey Nanosystems

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

It’s been a black week for Anish Kapoor. The sculptor has been granted the exclusive artistic rights to VantaBlack, a material that has been developed by scientists in Surrey and is 99.96 per cent light absorbent – making it the ‘blackest black’ on earth. So obscure is the material that it can make 3D objects look completely flat.

However, artists around the world have united in outrage over Kapoor’s artistic rights over the mysterious material. ‘This black is like dynamite in the art world,’ artist Christian Furr told the Daily Mail, ‘We should be able to use it. It isn’t right that it belongs to one man’. ‘I have not known of anything so absurd – in the creative world, artists, nobody should have a monopoly,’ watercolourist Shanti Panchal railed to Calcutta’s Telegraph.

Surrey Nanosystems, the sole manufacturer of VantaBlack, have offered insight as to their brainchild with an exhaustive FAQ form on its website, which confirms that the material is ‘generally not suitable for use in art’ and that the firm has ‘chosen to license Vantablack S-VIS exclusively to Kapoor Studios UK to explore its use in works of art’.

Which is all very well (unless, of course, you happen to be one of the disgruntled artists disputing the exclusivity clause), but the question remains: why on earth does Sir Anish get exclusivity?

Rakewell’s colleagues called Surrey Nanosystems demanding answers, but the firm directed him back to those FAQs and declined to comment further. As such, he can only speculate. Perhaps Kapoor is intent on stealing Peter Mandelson’s unofficial status as the ‘Prince of Darkness’. Or is he finding that the blinds in his Chelsea home just aren’t up to the task now that Spring is here? If you can,erm, shed some light on the matter, email rakewell@apollomag.com. The Rake needs to know!

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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