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Anthony Caro

British Sculptor

Anthony Caro Photo

Born: 8 March 1924 - London, UK

Died: 23 October 2013 - London, UK

"Scale is very, very important, like the scale of a person is very important. It's to do with the size of our space, the fact they are big sculptures, they are still human scale."

Summary of Anthony Caro

Anthony Caro is widely considered the most important British sculptor since Henry Moore, a pioneer who took the older artist's characteristic figurative abstraction one step further, creating wholly abstract works which didn't bear obvious resemblance to any other objects. These works asked fundamental questions about the nature of sculpture as an artform: what it could be made out of; what, if anything, it had to look like; and how it might position itself in relation to the space of the gallery. Many of Caro's works seem to disintegrate and reform in front of the eye as the viewer walks round them, performing subtle commentaries on the boundaries between artistic and non-artistic space; or frame the gaps and surfaces around and in-between the works as of equal importance to the work itself. As a teacher, he influenced a whole generation of younger British sculptors, and though his critical and commercial success led some to view him as an institutional figure - an example to be kicked against - his works continue to excite and provoke by their genuinely radical formal innovations.

Key Ideas

Caro's work enacts the movement from figurative to non-figurative abstraction which characterizes British sculpture of the 1950s-60s. Influenced primarily by American abstract artists of the same generation, Caro abandoned the anthropomorphic motifs of his early work in favor of dynamic, expressionistic assemblages of steel and other materials. His breakthrough 1963 Whitechapel Gallery exhibition represented a turning point in British sculpture, suggesting the possibilities opened up to sculptural form once its 'representational' function had been entirely eliminated.
One of Caro's most innovative technical maneuvers was to integrate the spaces and surfaces around the sculpture into the work itself: removing his works from the plinth, he placed them directly on the gallery floor, or, as in the case of his Table Pieces, suspended them from the edges of flat surfaces. This encouraged a more interactive relationship with the work, encouraging viewers to approach them closely and to inspect them from every angle, interacting with them more as environmental features than privileged adornments to the gallery space.
During the last few decades of his life, Caro began to work on a range of projects which blurred the boundaries between artistic and architectural design: what he called "sculpitecture". These pieces generally suggested - and, in the case of his iconic Millenium Bridge, literally performed - practical functions. This element of Caro's practice led him to collaborate with prestigious architects and engineers such as Norman Foster, and ensured the cultural ubiquity of his work. Any visitor to London who has crossed the Thames from St. Pauls Cathedral to the Tate Modern Gallery, for example, has walked over an Anthony Caro artwork, mostoften without even realizing it.
Anthony Caro Photo

Antony Caro was born in New Malden in South-West London, the youngest of three siblings born to parents Alfred and Mary. He was sent to Charterhouse, a private school in Surrey, where one of his housemasters introduced him to the sculptor Charles Wheeler, a future president of the Royal Academy who would tutor Caro during the school holidays. In 1942, Caro started an engineering degree at Christ's College, Cambridge, but he still felt the pull of Wheeler's influence, and continued to study sculpture with him at Farnham Art School in Surrey during his vacations. After graduating from Cambridge, Caro joined the Royal Navy, serving for two years in the Fleet Air Arm.

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