Is The New Black A New Art Tool?
Vantablack is a recently invented substance which is blacker than black. It is manufactured in a lab. It is the blackest black on earth. It never existed before scientists recently created it.
Do artists care?
After all, we are creatures of color and light. Color transmits joy
(As embodied in this Henri Matisse)
Black is negative and scary: The opposite of happiness. It isn’t even on the color wheel. It isn’t even a color.
So why did scientists at a nanotechnology company create blacker than the black we already have, the blackest darkness on earth? So dense that it confuses the eye, it can’t even be picked up on spectrometers.
Vantablack wasn’t invented for art. It was invented for technology. Its real-life application is to limit stray light in infrared cameras, complex scientific instruments. It absorbs light and has sophisticated possibilities in the development of solar power.
It is created from carbon nanotubes 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Does Vantablack have a place in art? Interesting beautiful art has been created using predominately black.
E.g., this favorite Mark Rothko. He obviously mixed his own black, my personal favorite: Dark blue and dark red. Lovely.
However, in general, black is best used sparingly. Prepared from coal or carbon it can appear be drab, as some find this Robert Rauschenberg work (1951).
To me it seems the artist struggled with the medium to create a minimalist canvas, almost like a primatively scratched wall of anthracite. It’s not that the creation is beautiful, but that it manages to be interesting despite its darkness.
Darkness can have a negative impact on us humans. Like being buried underground. Or death.
BLACK can be particularly powerful against white, can be more powerful than any color. This is why Ansel Adams and generations of photographers prefer it.
Black can provide extraordinary drama. Life against the Dark.
Perhaps artists will find new exciting applications for Vantablack.
Not that you or I can buy any to play around with. It’s not for sale.
Anish Kapoor, a noted British sculptor has somehow purchased exclusive rights to the early version of Vantablack. (No one can buy the most recent distillation.)
We can only assume Kapoor envisions sculptural possibilities for the blackest black on earth.
It’s easy to imagine something more scary than playful.
Judging by Kapoor’s past adventurousness, interesting & mayhap scary black confections are likely in the offing.
On my part, I think I’ll continue mix my own black, red and blue, heavy on the blue.
Whilst I eagerly anticipate viewing Kapoor’s explorations in black.