Collections> Browse Anthony Caro

Collections> Browse Anthony Caro

Anthony Caro
Holdings (7)
3 sculptures, 3 unique works on paper, 1 multiple

Wikipedia About Anthony Caro

Sir Anthony Alfred Caro, OM, CBE (born 8 March 1924 in New Malden, then in Surrey) is an English abstract sculptor whose work is characterised by assemblages of metal using ‘found’ industrial objects. Full Wikipedia Article

essay Anthony Caro, Walker Art Center Collections, 2005

The story of Anthony Caro’s emergence as one of the most celebrated postwar sculptors has all the elements of a great myth of accession. In the early 1950s, Caro was the foundry assistant to the most radical British sculptor of the day, Henry Moore, and his own work echoed his mentor’s distorted bronzes of the human figure. Yet following a trip to America in 1959—where he met artists David Smith, Kenneth Noland, and Robert Motherwell as well as critic Clement Greenberg—Caro underwent a Damascene conversion and famously abandoned figuration, did away with pedestals, gave up “making objects” and “that whole illustrative thing.”1 By 1962, his sculptural language featured large, sprawling constructions made from bolted and welded scrap metal, which were painted in single bright colors. With the fervent support of American critics, particularly Greenberg and Michael Fried, Caro introduced a fresh set of concerns to sculpture that became both a touchstone and a justification for the “rightness,” “essence,” and “necessity” of modernist formalism. His canonization by American institutions was sealed by the New York Museum of Modern Art retrospective of his work, which the Walker Art Center hosted in the fall of 1975.

Caro’s new sculptures were composed and assembled—rather than carved or cast—with elements dispersed and scattered in a resolutely nonmonumental, ground-skimming fashion. Sculpture Three, 1962 (1962) is exemplary of this first flush of what might be described as sculpture-drawing. Here it’s as if his capacity to make massive metal sculpture appear whimsical mocks all the clichés of the sculptor and his combative assault on unhewn slabs. Like the mobiles of Alexander Calder, though without the politeness to organize themselves around a pivot, Caro’s works of this period trade in lightness and eccentric balletic poise.

Fried and Greenberg couched such works in militantly formalist ways; for them, “all the relationships that count are to be found in the sculptures themselves and nowhere else.”2 Yet looking at Sculpture Three, 1962 more than forty years later, it seems as bright as children’s playground apparatus or a line of chic agricultural equipment—less pedantically self-obsessed, less bombastically “compelled by a vision” than these arch-modernists would have had us believe.3

  1. Roy M. Close, “Remodeled self led to constructed art,” Minneapolis Star, September 12, 1975, sec. 2B.

  2. Michael Fried in the introduction to Caro’s 1969 retrospective catalogue at the Hayward Gallery, London, quoted in Peter Fuller, “Anthony Caro,” Studio International 193, no. 985 (January–February 1997): 70.

  3. Clement Greenberg, “Anthony Caro,” Arts Yearbook 8: Contemporary Sculpture (New York), 1965, 106–109. Reprinted in Studio International 174, no. 892 (September 1967): 116–117.

Andrews, Max. “Anthony Caro.” In Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present a Semblance of a Whole: Walker Art Center Collections, edited by Joan Rothfuss and Elizabeth Carpenter. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 2005.

© 2005 Walker Art Center