(1924-2013)

Anthony Caro is an English sculptor known for following the precedent of artists such as David Smith and Constantin Brancusi, both of whom paved the way for experimentation beyond antiquated traditions in sculpture.  Caro’s oeuvre spans from early figurative works to his more extensive and frequently exhibited abstract works.  He first encountered modernism working as an assistant to Henry Moore in the early 1950s, and began integrating found, prefabricated industrial materials into his work a decade later in 1960.  He is considered a key figure both in contemporary sculpture and in the development of twentieth century sculpture as a whole.     

Anthony Caro was born March 8, 1924 in New Malden, England, and earned a degree in engineering from Christ’s College in Cambridge in 1944.  During his summer vacations, Caro worked in the studio of sculptor Charles Wheeler.  After serving in the Royal Navy for two years, he began training at the Royal Academy Schools in London.  Between 1947 and 1952 Caro studied and copied Greek, Etruscan, Romanesque, and Gothic sculpture.  He was also awarded three medals during his tenure there, in clay figure modeling, carving, and composition.  He would go on to teach at St. Martin’s School of Art in London, as well as Bennington College in Vermont.  He helped to reorganize the sculpture department at the former, and develop the curriculum to integrate sculpture and drawing into a single course.  This adjustment, he believed, encouraged students to not simply copy, but fully understand the subject.  

An extensive roster of public institutions and private galleries has exhibited Caro’s work over the past half-century.  In 1955 the Institute of Contemporary Art in London showed two of his figurative sculptures in the group exhibition New Painters and Painter-Sculptors.  Two years later the Gimpel Fils Gallery, also in London, held his first one-man exhibition.  In 1959 he was awarded a prize for sculpture in the First Paris Biennale for young artists.  This was also the year he met critic Clement Greenberg in London, and traveled to the US where he met David Smith, Kenneth Noland, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler and others in New York.  

In 1963 the Whitechapel London Gallery held a groundbreaking one-man exhibition showcasing fifteen of Caro’s abstract steel sculptures.  This exposure led to numerous shows in New York, including many at the Andre Emmerich Gallery, in addition to international exhibitions such as

 

Documenta III in Kassel, Germany in 1964.  He was not only experimenting in material and abstraction at the time, but also in scale.  In 1966, after conversations with critic Michael Fried, Caro began a series of smaller sculptures referred to as his Table Pieces

His sculptures made another shift in scale following his work at the York Steel Company factory in Toronto in 1974.  Here he was able to produce his Flat series: large steel sculptures constructed using heavy handling equipment.  The following year the Museum of Modern Art in New York held a retrospective of his work.  

The 1980s proved to be just as productive and innovative a time for Caro as the previous two decades.  He began working in bronze, lead, wood, and handmade paper to create not only sculptures of varying sizes but also wall reliefs and more architectural works.  In 1982 he organized the first Triangle Network workshop with businessman and art collector Robert Loder.  The initiative aims to connect an international network of artists, and in an effort to counteract a growing focus on the commercialization of the art object, calls attention to the creative process of art production.

The largest retrospective of Caro’s career was held at the new Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo in 1995.  It was curated by Yasuyoshi Saito, and included 113 of his works.  Another major retrospective was held at Tate Britain in 2005.  In addition to being widely recognized by these institutions and highly sought after by private collectors, Caro received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, the Order of Merit in 2000 (the first sculptor since Henry Moore in 1963), an impressive number of honorary degrees, and was knighted Sir Anthony Caro in 1987.  He passed away on October 23rd, 2013.            

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