Can an artist own a colour?

Anish Kapoor.
Anish Kapoor.

LONDON • Sculp- tor Anish Kapoor sparked debate in Britain on Thursday by buying the exclusive right to use a pigment said to be the blackest ever, to the fury of others in the artistic community.

Kapoor, whose huge works of public art are landmarks in cities from London to Chicago, has snapped up the rights to Vantablack, which absorbs 99.96 per cent of light.

The move has drawn some criticism in Britain's artistic community.

Christian Furr, a portraitist who had planned to use Vantablack in a series of paintings, told the Mail on Sunday newspaper: "We should be able to use it. It isn't right that it belongs to one man."

The Guardian newspaper ran a story headlined: "Can an artist ever really own a colour?"

But it found that Kapoor was "an ideal artist to experiment with this freaky black" due to his love of "deep, dark, sensual colours".

The colour's maker NanoSystems said on its website that it had chosen to license Vantablack to Kapoor's studio, which would limit its use "in the field of art but does not extend to any other sectors".

It was originally developed for military and aeronautical purposes.

Asked about the reaction of other artists, the firm said: "This debate is for the artistic community, we don't want to get involved. We are scientists."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2016, with the headline 'Can an artist own a colour?'. Subscribe