art & design

The Pinkest Pink and Blackest Black

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I am here today to tell what some may consider a very silly story. It concerns Anish Kapoor who was given the right to use Vantablack, the blackest pigment known to man, and Stuart Semple. Who got angry at Mr Kapoor for being the only person who had the right to use this pigment and in retaliation created the Pinkest Pink. That being the pinkest pigment ever created. In case you hadn’t already realised, this is a very first world story.


Vantablack is a substance which absorbs 99% of radiation in the visible spectrum. This makes it the darkest artificial substance known to man. Vantablack reflects almost no light meaning anything painted with it almost look like a void in space. It works like this because the substance is made out of vertical tubes which are “grown” on a substrate using a modified chemical vapor deposition process.

By Surrey NanoSystems – Surrey NanoSystems, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This means when light strikes Vantablack, it becomes trapped and continually deflected among the tubes rather than being reflected. There are a number of uses for this substance, from preventing stray light entering telescopes to improving the performance of infrared cameras. But Surrey Nanosystems, the company which trademarked the name Vantablack, also gave an exclusive license to Anish Kapoor for artistic use.


A number of people were quite understandably angry at the fact this supposed art material only being licensed to one person. Surrey Nanosystems had a good reason for this, Vantablack being expensive and difficult to make. But a number of artists still kicked up a fuss. Stuart Semple being one of them.

The pigment can be mixed to a thick consistency with water or acrylic medium and used in a similar fashion to gouache or watercolour.

In retaliation Stuart Semple created a pigment which he calls the “pinkest pink”. The pigment that Semple has created is so vibrant it’s impossible to properly recreate it on-screen. No matter how pink you think the images on this page are, the colour is even more vibrant in real life. Semple also sells this pigment on his website for the low price of £3.99. Meaning anyone who wants to buy this pigment can. However he did add a disclaimer stating that Anish Kapoor was not allowed to buy it.


Anish Kapoor did then get his hands on a jar of the “pinkest pink. He also uploaded a photograph to his Instagram page showing his middle finger covered in the pink pigment. Semple has implied that his move was a piece of performance art. That he didn’t intend for it to get the reaction it did.

Others have implied that the outrage was manufactured by the media. Or that the controversy between the artists was a piece of art in itself. All I can say from my point of view, outrage is not art and artists getting in a pissing contest over very expensive materials is a bit silly. However I now have a jar of the pinkest pink pigment which is actually pretty great.


  • Captain's Quarters

    This was weirdly entertaining. I follow a blogger who critiques modern art in ways that remind me of this post due to the absurd things artists do sometimes. Modern art is hit or miss for me. I have a special fondness for light installations personally. In any case, enough blabbering. Awesome post. Oh and the link to the modern art guy is below on the odd off chance ye want to look at it.
    x The Captain

  • Crafty Rat

    It is very silly, but it did inspire him to make some interesting products and that pink does look rather nice… which is my way of saying I have placed an order 🙂 You should get commission.

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