Can You Own A Colour? Controversy Surrounds the Blackest Black Ever

Developed by UK based NanoSystems, Vantablack paint is the darkest man made substance in the world. Originally designed for disguising satellites and stealth jets, artist Anish Kapoor now has exclusive rights to the Vantablack pigment and is the only person in the world who can paint with purest black paint ever created.

Vantablack was developed by Nanosystems in 2014 and is made from a series of microscopic vertical tubes, which are 10,000 times thinner than human hair and grown on aluminium foil. When light hits Vantablack paint, the light becomes trapped within the vertical tubes rather than bouncing back. The pigment is able to absorbe a total of 99.96 percent of light. By comparison, the blackest paints available on the market absorb late at a rate of between 85 to 95%. Because Vantablack is so black, the human eye struggles to make out its shape and surface. Wrinkles on its surface are therefore not visible. According to Nanosystems, it is the closest thing on earth to seeing a black hole. It was originally developed with the aerospace industry in mind and it cannot be bought. The only exception is for Kapoor.

The idea of an artist having exclusive rights to the use of a particular pain colour is creating controversy. With artist Christian Furr, who was planning to use the paint in an upcoming series called Animals, telling the Mail “ We should be able to use it. It isn’t right that it belongs to one man.” It would not however be the first time an artist had exclusive right to a colour. In 1960, French artist Yves Client patented a striking shade of blue patented as International Klein Blue. Since the artist’s death however the colour has been used by several artists including the Blue Man Group and by artist Derek Jarman.

Nasa has created their own version of Vantablack, however Nanosystems is the only company currently able to mass produce it.