Blacker than black?

Ad Reinhardt, Abstract Painting 1960-66, Oil on canvas, 60 x60 inches

"The blackest black ever made on Earth..."
has been created by scientists bubbling a shiny metal plate in nitric acid for a few seconds, resulting in a material that absorbs 99.9% of all visible light. I emphatically say wow to this. The new super-black will apparently have a major impact in certain fields of scientific research and industry.

And for the rest of us?
Does a color exist if there is no one to see it?

Black is a color; black is not a color: depends on who you ask. How about Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, Jacqueline Humphries, Ad Reinhardt, Joseph Marioni or Pat Steir, for starters.

Pat Steir The Dark 2007 Oil on Canvas 134 x 215 1/4 inches, at Cheim Read

Black does not reflect light at any point of the visible spectrum. A response to zero stimulation of the retina, the perception of black depends on contrast with surrounding color stimuli.

Black is the achromatic color value of minimum lightness or maximum darkness,
the color of objects that absorb nearly all light of all visible wavelengths,
and one extreme of the neutral gray series, the opposite being white.

Jacqueline Humphries Untitled 2005 Oil on linen, 36 x 44 inches

If it can be defined in light, then black is the absence of light and therefore not a color -- most especially not Super-Black. But what if defined as a pigment? Then it is a color, most especially Super-black.

Joseph Marioni Violet Painting 2004 Acrylic on linen 78 x 62 inches at Larry Becker Contemporary Art

It is a matter of vision and reflection, a physiological response jaded by our brain.

Kate Beck, Black_2_0208 Digital Image: Pre-Dawn Light, Winter

Super-black reflects 10 to 20 times less light than the current black standard, and is measured as being 30 times darker. So in physics, at least, a black body is a perfect absorber of light.

does Super-black exist if there is no one to see it?

Please, get it in a paint can, whether I can see it or not.


John Zurier: Night Paintings

John Zurier Night 20 Distemper on Linen 20x30 inches

In the Old City district of Philadelphia, I visited John Zurier's eloquent show, NIGHT PAINTINGS, at Larry Becker Contemporary Art. Wandering into the intimate gallery, on a quiet morning easy with soft spring light, I was so pleased to spend a generous, comfortable hour with Heidi and Larry amidst Zurier's luminous surfaces. Just perfect.

Zurier's 12 paintings, all very close in scale and hue, are created with traditional distemper media (dry pigment and hide glue thinned with water and embedded into raw linen in thin, multiple layers), which Zurier has absolutely made his own. His surfaces become subtle journeys through deft mark and resonating hue, each painting pulsing with pthalo, deep ultramarine and bright lapis-like blues, and undertones of viridian and the earthy raw linen beneath. Wide horizontal swathes of brush strokes hold the surfaces as light moves slowly about them. These are profoundly personal works, strong yet fragile, eliciting an essence of vital place and land mass.

I met with both John Zurier and his wife, photographer Nina Hubbs Zurier, later that evening. They live in Berkely, CA and both exhibit with Wade Wilson in Houston, TX. John Zurier's painting can also be seen at Peter Blum in NYC.

NIGHT PAINTINGS continues through April 19.