A history of artist Anish Kapoor and his assholic mission to own the color black


A black tragicomedy?


Oh, it’s not banned. It’s just reserved for the wealthy…



Christ, what an artist!

Seriously, fighting public photography is about as realistic as screaming at an oncoming avalanche.


I’m not sure calling your behavior “performance art” even if that is what you’re doing, makes you not an asshole.

In fact, I’m fairly sure it makes you more of an asshole, because it means you’re fully aware how much of an ass you’re being, but you’re doing it anyway.


The blackest black could be incredibly useful and productive in solar thermal applications. I wonder if Kapoor has thought about releasing it to solar researchers and if not why not.


@GulliverFoyle @Auld_Lang_Syne

Oh yeah, no, I didn’t mean to imply that you can’t be an asshole and a performance artist by any stretch, and honestly, I think the field attracts more than it’s fair share, given that it is often essentially pranking + pretention…I just meant that I can’t commit to getting too earnestly offended because I’m afraid I will then be caught in a “The point was to make you angry, to make you think” and I just don’t want to be trolled too hard, so I try not to invest…


Art is subjective. But it doesn’t ever excuse bad behavior IMO. If someone’s idea of “art” was to commit violent crimes in interesting ways, not only wouldn’t it be any better, it would be worse. But I agree there’s no point in getting angry. As for thinking, I guess he’s getting people to think about ways to work around his assholishness. Beyond that, there’s really nothing worth talking about. What he’s doing isn’t any deeper than what any other asshole does, it just causes a singular problem for others. He’s hardy the first person to create artificial scarcity for his own profit. He’d fit right in in the pharmaceutical industry.


If you are talking about the “blackest black”…in what way does this create a singular problem?

Artists who wish to have black elements in their works are in exactly the same position they were in just before this pigment first saw the light of day, so to speak.

Not even a first world problem. This is a zeroth world probkem.


No. Before it existed, there was the potential that once invented, anyone could use it if they could make the formula. Now no one but him can. He alone created this problem.

I’m not evaluating the merits or size of the problem or how much I care about it. I’m merely stating that it is a problem anyone else who wants to use a black as black must find a legal way around if they want to make and show art with it. But asshole behavior is asshole behavior regardless. Flipping the bird at someone isn’t harmful, but it’s still an asshole thing to do. I see no reason to pretend it’s not simply because it’s no real problem for anyone.


I’ll concede it is a problem if, in a double blinded test, there is a discernable visual difference between Kapoor’s black and other black pigments which are readily available.


Oh, I doubt you could see it with the naked eye. But you can, apparently, measure it. Again, I’m not suggesting it’s a serious problem; from what I understand it’s so expensive and difficult to make that it wouldn’t be very popular even if other artists could use it. Merely that it’s an unnecessary limit he alone imposed on the art world. I don’t particularly care that he’s being an asshole. I only observe that he is.


Photovotalic applications is, in fact, one of the driving forces behind the development of the underlying structures (Vertically-Aligned carbon NanoTube Arrays, hence “VANTA”), and an ongoing area of research.



I own the rights to my image. Therefore- no CCTV can film me.


Well, no, not exactly.

Nobody but Kapoor can use this particular formulation of carbon nanotubes from this one particular company made in this one particular way. (Not until his licensing agreement is up, anyway.)

But anybody can make carbon nanotubes, and anybody is free to make a different formulation. You cannot patent carbon atoms. You can patent particular methods to make a particular substance, and you can patent the use of a particular molecule for a particular purpose, but any other company or person can legally develop or apply their own slightly different method to make carbon nanotubes (there are lots of ways to do that) and formulate or process those carbon nanotubes in a slightly different way (there are lots of ways to do that). And then you have another blackest black that Surrey NanoSystems / Kapoor have no claim on.

But yes, total asshole.


Okay, that makes sense, but why did Kapoor bother to buy exclusive rights to that particular formula then?


I realize you are probably making a joke, here, but most people really do not understand the rights of a photographer taking pictures in a public venue. The nuances vary from legal jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in broad strokes: no, you really really don’t.

In most countries, you own the rights to the commercial use of your image under some limited conditions (but probably not unless you’re famous enough that the fact that it’s your image is what specifically makes the image commercially valuable, and often not even then). If you are in a location with no reasonable expectation of privacy, anybody may record your image without your permission, and a photographer has sole copyright over any photograph they take, even one with you in it. A photographer can take a picture in a public space and freely sell that picture, and they don’t need permission of everyone in the picture to do it.


Beats me. Rich asshole gonna rich asshole, I guess.

I was wondering why Surrey NanoSystems would choose license the stuff to just one person for artistic purposes. But it’s stupid expensive, and it has defence applications so it’s a lot of paperwork to export it out of the UK, and art isn’t the thing they’re really developing it for, so I suppose that if a crazy rich artist comes to you and says “I will pay you X million pounds to let me and nobody else use this stuff as an artistic pigment” then I suppose from a business perspective your response might well be “we were not anticipating this being used in art at all, actually, but we will gladly take your money you silly man”.

I would like to be in on the Board of Directors meeting where the licensing team has to explain why so many artists hate them, now.


Valid point.

That would be hilarious :grinning:


But my face is every bit as much a work of art as his building or color.

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