...serenity in motion

Artistic Rivalries, What is with all the fuss?

Artistic Rivalry, What is with all the fuss?

I recently read on facebook a great story about 2 professional artists going toe to toe on an international scale.  Anish Kapoor designed the Chicago “Cloud Gate” permanent installation.  People refer to it as the “Bean”, it is a huge organic shape with a highly reflective surface.  Anish Kapoor purchased the exclusive rights to Vanta Black, the blackest black available.  It has a 99.6 light absorption rate and Anish will not let any other artist use it.  Not that it is a big problem, it is difficult to use and dangerous. A British born artist Stuart Semple became frustrated with Anish’s inability to play nice.  Stuart Semple mixes pigments when he isn’t creating, and he came up with Black 2.0.  He has worked hard to make sure that it stays out of Anish’s hands.  Stuart also created a “Pinkest Pink” that he refused to sell to Anish as well.  On his website, there is a disclaimer: “Note: by adding this pigment to your cart you confirm you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated with 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 the hands of Anish Kapoor.”  Stuart follows this statement with #sharetheblack.

Rivalries have happened for centuries, Carravaggio and Giovanni, Van Gogh and Gauguin, even Michelangelo and Di Vinici.  Modern times have seen Matisse and Picasso, Pollock and De Kooning and Banksy and King Robbo.  The greatest success with rivalries is how they push artists to achieve greater and grander artistic creations.  Stuart Semple released a Black 3.0 with the help of other artists that has a light absorption rate of 98-99%. He sent the Black 2.0 out to 1000 artistic friends and asked them to help create the darkest color in pigment instead of nano tubes.  It worked, and Stuart’s version is non-toxic, smells like cherries and is easy for everyone to use.

Competition is one of the most potent driving artistic forces out there.  To stand on the shoulders of others via one-up-manship is one of the first things we learn in grade school.  But in the end, is it worth it?  Picasso and Matisse did some of their best work while in competition and Stuart Semple has created some of the most amazing pigments out there just to create something that he can keep from Kappor.  Stuart refers to their rivalry as “an elaborate piece of interactive performance art which re-imagined the internet as a participatory performance space. “

Now I do not advocate violence (Van Gogh loosing an ear) or libel (Caravaggio actually ended up in jail a few days after Giovanni sued him), but finding someone you want to rise above or at least aspire to can be the push you were looking for.  Try to keep your perspective and never, ever sacrifice your reputation or mental health to beat someone else.  Art is to improve the world through ideas or aesthetics, not violence and incarceration.