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Black, singular and plural

Sven Dupré
p. 12-15


Full text document will be published online on March 2025.

First lines

Not many things in nature are black. Black holes come to mind, but they are rather exceptional in their natural blackness. Appropriately, a solvent-based paint full of carbon nanotubes that absorbs almost all light, recently developed by a Massachusetts-based manufacturer NanoLab, is named Singularity Black. Made freely available, it challenges Vantablack, patented so that only the artist Anish Kapoor is allowed to use it. Absorbing 99.96 per cent of all light that strikes it, Vantablack is the very blackest black ever made. This recent search for the blackest black underscores how difficult it is to artificially create black, precisely while black is a rather uncommon color in nature. Black dyeing, as we will see, is a complex and labor-intensive affair, as there exists no plant or mineral in nature that can directly and durably dye black. In this sense, black is a singular phenomenon. Yet, from another perspective, black is plural. When black became a highly fashionable color in t...

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Bibliographical reference

Sven Dupré, “Black, singular and plural”Technè, 56 | 2023, 12-15.

Electronic reference

Sven Dupré, “Black, singular and plural”Technè [Online], 56 | 2023, Online since 14 March 2025, connection on 20 July 2024. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Sven Dupré

Director of the Research Institute for History and Art History – Professor of History of Art, Science and Technology, Utrecht University (Department of History and Art History) and University of Amsterdam (Conservation & Restoration) (S.G.M.Dupre[at]

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The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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