I’ll Take “Prussian Blue” for $400

Credit: Wikipedia

Respected British sculptor Anish Kapoor recently bought black. Not just any black — Vantablack, which is really really black, like the blackest ever, like actually made in a lab to be as black as black can get. It absorbs 99.965% of visible radiation, which is what makes the aluminum foil above look completely flat. (I think. Science?)

It’s very black, is the point, and Kapoor has been experimenting with it in his work for years now. In an interview with BBC Radio 4, he said the color creates “a space that’s so dark that as you walk in you lose all sense of who you are and what you are, and also all sense of time,” which sounds neat and not at all terrifying!

Last week, Kapoor purchased the exclusive rights to the color, meaning no other artist will be permitted to use it in his or her work. Understandably, this has made those artists pretty angry. It also raises a lot of questions about intellectual and artistic property, and whether we can (or should) slap a price point on the materials of expression.

There are parallels here to Kylie vs Kylie, and their current mudslinging over who owns the right to their name — essentially, who is the “better” Kylie, and which one has “contributed” more to pop culture.

So, how much should a color cost? And what might the world lose in denying other artists access to it? What happens when the next Kylie arrives on our stage? Should we really be regulating when individuality and self-expression are at stake?

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