Vantablack vs. Black 2.0: Which Is the Superblack for You?

Artist Stuart Semple has released a matte black paint that anyone except Anish Kapoor can use.

Vantablack. Courtesy of Surrey NanoSystems.

Another shot has been fired in the war over Vantablack, the world’s blackest material. Artist Stuart Semple is taking aim yet again at Anish Kapoor, who infamously secured the exclusive rights for the artistic use of Vantablack. Semple has just released Black 2.0, billed as “the world’s mattest, flattest, black art material.”

“With just one coat almost any object (even really shiny ones) become super-black and reflect next to no light, giving a Vantastic black hole type effect,” notes the product description, which does include one important disclaimer (and pot shot at Kapoor): “this is not the blackest black in the world. It is however a better black than the blackest black in the world, as it is actually usable by artists.”

Previously, Semple has released Diamond Dust, the world’s most-glittery glitter, and a powdered acrylic pigment dubbed the Pinkest Pink. Despite being banned from using it, Kapoor managed to get his hands on the latter, and sent Semple an Instagram message as proof, provocatively extending a middle finger that he had dipped in the vibrant pigment.

You can also buy the Pinkest Pink in a four-pack set with Yellowest Yellow, Greenest Green, and Loveliest Blue. Semple has included, in the purchase agreement for all of these items, a clause prohibiting their purchase or use by Kapoor, as he did with Diamond Dust and Black 2.0:

By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make it’s [sic] way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.

Black 2.0 is currently on back order due to “huge unexpected demand,” and is already making a splash on Reddit’s MildlyInteresting forum, where one astonished user described another’s photo of a Black 2.0–painted ping-pong ball as “a portable hole.”

Another attempted to explain the feud, opining that Kapoor’s name “is kinda dirt now, because he’s revealed he’s willing to be a greedy litigious bastard if it means it’ll give him an edge over his competition. It also reeks of insecurity seeing as he’s already a wildly accomplished and successful artist.”

Comparing the specs for Vantablack and Black 2.0. Courtesy of Stewart Semple.

Comparing the specs for Vantablack and Black 2.0. Courtesy of Stewart Semple.

Whereas Vantablack’s specs involve such complex scientific terminology as “carbon nanotubes,” Black 2.0 boasts “top class lightfastness ” and “state of the art mattifyers [that] reduce light reflection.” Also, whereas Vantablack supposedly reeks of chemicals (though we’re not sure how Semple would know that), Black 2.0 apparently smells like black cherries, which sounds much nicer.

According to his website, Semple developed the new pigment with color chemists, cosmetic industry specialists, and architectural coatings experts using his preexisting Super Base matte acrylic base medium. Early feedback on Instagram suggests that it is in fact an improvement on his earlier effort, Black 1.0.

“It has been developed in close collaboration with thousands of artists from all over the world,” notes the product page. “Their amazing insight, support and inspiration has formed this unique super-black paint for the benefit of all artists”—except Anish Kapoor, remember.

With all the drama between Kapoor and Semple, and the excitement over Black 2.0 and Vantablack, perhaps you are wondering which pigment is right for you. Before placing an order, we suggest you ask yourself one simple question. Are you Anish Kapoor? If so, Vantablack all the way. Otherwise, Semple has you covered with his much cheaper alternative.

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