Thursday, 24 October 2013

Sir Anthony Caro, 1924 - 2013

Sir Anthony Caro, Early One Morning, 1962
Sir Anthony Caro died on 23 October 2013.
The passing of Sir Anthony Caro feels like the end of a chapter in British art that looks back to the early 1960s. The prolific and ever developing sculptor was a major figure and a sculptural revolutionary. His brightly painted, welded, abstract sculptures of the 1960s were a spectacular and radical turning away from the organic carved sculpture of Henry Moore for whom Caro worked as an assistant in the 1950s. The shift came about following a visit to the United States in 1959 where he met Clement Greenberg - the influential critic who articulated the then dominant ethos of Modernism and abstraction - the painters Helen Frankenthaler and Kenneth Noland and the sculptor David Smith. On his return to the UK he swapped his chisels for a welding kit and never looked back.
Caro was an influential teacher at St Martins School of Art (1952-79) inspiring not only a generation of abstract sculptors ('The New Generation' - William Tucker, Phillip King, Tim Scott et al) but also a generation of anti-'heavy metal' conceptual artists (Richard Long, Barry Flanagan, Gilbert & George, Bruce McLean et al) - I imagine Caro was amongst those lampooned by McLean:
The St. Martin’s sculpture forum would avoid every broader issue, discussing for hours the position of one piece of metal in relation to another. Twelve adult men with pipes would walk for hours around sculpture and mumble. Bruce McLean quoted from an interview with Nena Dimitrijevic, 1978-79 in Dimitrijevic, Nena (1981) Bruce McLean, London: Whitechapel Art Gallery, p7
Read obituaries by Norbert Lynton and William Grimes, an appreciation by Alastair Sooke and a tribute from Nicholas Serota.
Sir Anthony Caro, Sculpture Seven, 1961
Anthony Caro, Midday, 1960
Sir Anthony Caro, The Window, 1966-7
Sir Anthony Caro, Sunfeast, 1969/70
Sir Anthony Caro, Blazon, 1987-90
Sir Anthony Caro, Goodwood Steps, 1994-5, installed at Chatsworth House

Sir Anthony Caro, installation commissioned for Le Choeur de Lumière (Chapel of Light), Eglise de Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Bourbourg, France, inaugurated 2008

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