Black is having something of a moment. A perennial mark of elegance and sophistication in modern design, art, and fashion, black has somehow only grown in popularity over the last decade, seducing interior designers and architects into applying abundant swaths of black in private and public commissions. In residential design, black has evolved from an accent hue, something to be used sparingly and judiciously, to the main event, yielding everything from striking all-black rooms to elegant black-clad contemporary houses. And now, comes Vantablack, billed as the earth's blackest black, capable of absorbing 99.965% of light—in short, a really, really black black.
Vantablack—the name is an acronym of Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays—isn't a paint so much as a coating, created three years ago by scientists at the UK chemical firm, Surrey NanoSystems, which calls its trademarked creation the 'darkest man-made substance' on earth.' That substance is the end product of tubes of carbon atoms—nanotubes—spaced perfectly apart, allowing incoming light to stay trapped between their blade-like forms. One square centimeter of Vantablack consists of about one billion carbon nanotubes. According to Surrey NanoSystems, Vantablack is 'the closest thing to a black hole we'll ever see,' a description that proved inviting enough for the British artist Anish Kapoor—his award-winning installations have included, among other visual spectacles, a massive whirlpool of black water churning in the ground (Descension)—to quickly acquire the exclusive creative rights to Vantablack, ensuring his status as the only artist on the planet allowed to use Vantablack in his work. So much for art being democratic.
The British conceptual artist, Anish Kapoor, has acquired exclusive rights to Vantablack, making him the only artist on earth allowed to use Vantablack in his work.