The Art War – Stuart Semple vs Anish Kapoor

Stuart Semple (left) and Anish Kapoor (right). Photo via WordPress

As Taylor Swift once said, “The world moves on, another day, another drama,” and an interesting drama going on around the world, that us, non-artists may not know about is the Art World Drama. It may sound minor, but trust me, it is nowhere close to ‘minor’. The two masters of the Art World Drama are Stuart Semple, 36, the hero and Anish Kapoor, 62, the Villain, as said by the art world.

Cloud Gate made by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor is an artist, who was famous for his works such as the Cloud Gate (a.k.a. Chicago’s “The Bean” if you are from the Midwest) for three decades. However, on 2016, his fame took an unexpected turn when he bought the color Vantablack – also known as the blackest black on Earth and got exclusive rights to use the color. While Vantablack, the color that can absorb up to 99.9 percent of visible light was already difficult to get hold of and was extremely expensive, buying the rights to the color undoubtedly took the thrill from the art world. Now, the only human being on the

A 3D face coated with Vantablack (left) | Surrey NanoSystems

planet that can legally use the color, Vanta black, is Anish Kapoor, and he is not intending to share it with other artists at all. In other words, Kapoor selfishly locked down the color, Vantablack.

Enter Stuart Semple. The 36-year-old is a british artist as well, although he is not as famously known as Kapoor. When Semple was asked about his favorite color during a talk at the Denver Art Museum, Semple said that it was Ventablack. “And I can’t use it.” Semple was then asked what he would do about it, he answered with little forethought and a lot of tongue shoved into his cheek: “I’m going to release my pink, but not allow Anish Kapoor to use it.”

So on December 2016, just as he said, he made and released an ultra-fluorescent pink paint. “No one has ever seen a pinker pink,” he says. He named the color “Pinkest Pink” and he put the color on sale on his website Culturehustle. But this was not it. Semple included a hashtag, #sharetheblack after a legalistic warning that said:

“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 its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.”

Pinkest Pink by Stuart Semple

Although Semple was simply planning on selling one or two, it didn’t quite go as expected. Orders started coming in, first a few, and then a rush, and then a flood. The artists who bought the color, made art with it and started posting the art online with the hashtag #sharetheblack.

However, Kapoor being one of the richest artists, he made his London representative, Lisson Gallery violate Semple’s terms of service to purchase the Pinkest Pink. Nobody knows if his act was to show that he can have everything he want, or to show that he actually wanted the color Pinkest Pink. However, what we do know is that Kapoor shared on his Instagram page a photo of him flipping a pink-dipped middle finger to the camera, with a caption “Up yours #pink.”

Not only was Semple outraged by the fact that Kapoor had gotten ahold of the pink, majority of the artists were also furious about it. Several people had commented on Kapoor’s post in rage and in shock of Kapoor’s actions with the hashtag #sharetheblack.

“The comments kind of say it all, but basically thousands of artists were pissed off,” Semple says. “That kind of upped the ante. At that point, everybody started writing in and asking me to make a black.”

Taking the advice of the people, Semple eventually decided to create his own super black. He said that it would be crowdsourced, affordable, completely safe and available to everyone (except, of course, Anish Kapoor). And a plus point is that, his black would smell like black cherries. On the other hand, the Vantablack Kapoor bought is highly toxic, potentially explosive, needs to be applied in a special laboratory and sealed properly, cannot be moved across boarders, can reach up to 300 degrees Celsius if not extremely careful and at last, costs a thousands of dollars.

Black 2.0 by Stuart Semple

Although the Black 2.0 created by Semple, with the help of over a thousand artists around the world, is slightly a less black black, it looks functionally the same to the human eye.

While Kapoor is the only human being that can use Vantablack, he is also the only human being who cannot use Black 2.0. I think we all know who got the better deal here.

Kapoor has made entirely only two comments regarding this matter. The first being his charming message about acquiring Pinkest Pink and the second being claiming to BuzzFeed that he and his small army of lawyers will be suing Semple, a poor artist who cannot afford a proper lawyer.

Although his pigments are enormously popular, Semple takes zero profit from it and is simply making the pigment just so that people can have it. “It’s about getting the colors out there and making them available,” Semple stated.

When Semple found out about the sueing, he said that he wrote to the BuzzFeed saying: ‘Look, it’d be really nice if we could just be friends, and he could say sorry for taking the pink, and give me the £3.99 back that it costs. And then we can just call it quits and it’ll all be fine.’ But Semple said that they completely ignored and said that they’d be suing him.

Kapoor, however, did not tell Semple that he would be suing Semple. He simply told BuzzFeed about it. Semple commented about the sueing saying, “If he’s suing me for damaging his reputation, suing me damages his reputation! He’s doing it to himself.” It has been almost 3 years since then and no lawsuit has still been made yet.

Diamond Dust by Stuart Semple

Along with the Black 2.0, Semple created another product by the name of Diamond Dust. Unlike the majority of the glitters that are made from plastics, Diamond Dust is a glitter made of glass shards, not just any glass, but with very special glass shards as said by Semple. It is so clear, that the painting will still be visible after it is applied. Semple explained that the glass is cut in such a special way that it can reflect light at loads and loads of angles. Therefore, Diamond Dust is known as the most reflective glitter produced, and once again, it is available to everyone but Anish Kapoor.

Some say that Semple created Diamond Dust to strike back at Kapoor for what he did, that it is Semple’s way of saying “shove your middle finger in this and see what happens.” Since the product is made of glass, it will obviously be painful if one sticks their plain finger into it. Nevertheless, I think we all can agree that Semple can get an insult across while still being classy.

In such a way 4 years passed and the Feud between Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple still hasn’t been fixed. Semple continued to release colors which artists around the world loved while Kapoor, he didn’t really do anything noticeable.

Internet users on the other hand has been doing more than just a lot. They have been intentionally calling Kapoor’s Cloud Gate a Bean. Why? Because Kapoor hates the nickname bean and partly because it practically looks like a bean. Several people has also organized hilarious events around the Cloud Gate referring to it as bean.

Among these, one of the most epic event was organized by Semple for Kapoor’s 64th birthday. He named the event Kiss the Bean for Anish’s birthday and instructed everyone to wear their pinkest lipstick to kiss the bean while advertising his pigment, Pinkest Pink. Along with these, he included a bunch of websites where articles were written about the actions that Anish Kapoor did.

At the end Semple wrote: “Sometimes people act like rotters because they aren’t getting enough love. And I know we can fix that.. together!” He then wrote that to celebrate Kapoor’s 64th birthday they would be showing him “ALL the love.”

What’s ironic here is that at the very last of his invite, Semple mentioned the same note that says that “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 and so on…

So that is pretty much the biggest war currently going on in the Art world. Thanks to this war, now everyone has some of the Pinkest Pinks, Most Glitter Glitter and other masterpiece products such as Black 2.0, Phaze, that changes color with temperature, Shift, that is iridescent and many more. Semple also created Black 3.0, which is the blackest, the mattest paint in the known universe that can reportedly absorb up to 99 percent of all light. So, in a way Anish Kapoor is to be thanked as well for these brilliant colors that Semple made, for none of these products would have been made if Kapoor hadn’t locked down the color Vantablack. Always remember, Stuart Semple’s colors are available to everyone except Anish Kapoor!