Sir Anthony Caro (1924–2013) gained recognition in the 1960s for his brightly painted steel works, informed by the colour field trends of American art. Although renowned for these sculptures in steel, Caro produced works of equal importance in iron, aluminium, brass, bronze, wood and paper. Through a dynamic formal language, the artist’s work articulates a unique connection between asymmetry and balance, familiarity and otherness, often transforming architectural materiality into anatomical forms.
While nodding to the conventions of modernist sculpture, Caro’s work revived the otherwise traditional modes of presentation when he chose to display his often monumentally-sized works directly on the ground. Occupying a shared space and acknowledging their surroundings, the sculptures reveal the possibilities of a more intimate and meaningful spectatorship. Caro’s works appeal to the physical commonalities between the sculpture and the viewer, an artistic intervention that had a profound impact on the progression of twentieth-century sculpture. Over the course of six decades, Caro became internationally known as the preeminent British sculptor of his generation.
‘I never want people to handle my sculpture, to run their hands over surfaces. But I do want them to grasp it in a physical way, to relate to it with their bodies; that is one reason why the early works were so big. It is as if the eyes become a surrogate for the body. In one way or another physicality has to be a part of sculpture.’
A. Caro in conversation with K. Wilkin, ‘Openings’, in Caro, Munich: Prestel, 1991, p. 11
Image: First National, 1964, steel, painted green and yellow, 139.7 x 287 x 297 cm.; 55 x 113 x 116 7/8 in., Photo: Mike Bruce, © Barford Sculptures Ltd. and Gagosian, Courtesy of the Anthony Caro Centre