After two years of development, the artist Stuart Semple claims that his team has created the “mattest, flattest, blackest” acrylic paint in the world. They’ve made the paint, called Black 3.0, available for anyone to buy.
Except the artist Anish Kapoor, that is. If you’ve followed this saga, you already know why. Back in 2016, the world-famous Kapoor licensed the exclusive rights to another paint, the so-called “world’s blackest black,” Vantablack. Every other artist was forbidden from using the pigment, which was originally developed for satellite and scientific applications. The art community lambasted Kapoor–and Semple even developed and released what he claimed was the world’s pinkest pink paint and made it commercially available to everyone except Kapoor.
Then things escalated further: Kapoor managed to get a tube of the product, dipping his middle finger in it and flipping the bird to Semple and the rest of the protesting artists on Instagram.
So Semple decided to team up with paint makers and about 1,000 artists to develop and test a competitor to Vantablack. His first version, Black 2.0, wasn’t quite as black as Vantablack, since it only absorbed 95% of the visible light (Vantablack absorbs about 99%).
Now, Black 3.0 is out and available on Kickstarter for about $32 per 150ml tube. According to Semple, it is the blackest, mattest, flattest acrylic paint available on the planet, capturing up to 99% of all the visible spectrum radiation. The paint is based on a new pigment called Black Magick, whose exact composition they aren’t disclosing. Black 3.0 is made up of this pigment, combined with a custom acrylic polymer. Semple and his colleagues claim that the polymer “is special because it has more available bonds than any other acrylic polymer being used in paints,” allowing more pigment density. The paint is then finished with what they claim are new “nano-mattifiers,” which remove any shine from the paint. Unlike Vantablack, the resulting paint is soluble in water and nontoxic.
You can pre-order a tube over on the group’s Kickstarter, where they warn that “By backing this project you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not backing this on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this material will not make its way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.”
It’s anyone’s guess what Kapoor’s next move will be in this seemingly endless color feud.