Magazine article Art Monthly

Anthony Caro 1924-2013

Magazine article Art Monthly

Anthony Caro 1924-2013

Article excerpt

Anthony Caro, who died on 23 October aged 89, was in the great 20th-century tradition of painter-sculptors that began with Matisse and Picasso. Though unlike them he was not himself a painter--he studied engineering at Cambridge before taking up art after the war--his sculpture, while emphatically three-dimensional, shared graphic and pictorial qualities with abstract painting. This was not simply to do with the fact that, until the 1970s, his sculptures were painted, nor even with the fact that, in his later work he often referenced painters, particularly Manet, but rather with their extraordinary visual impact, which alters in relation to where the viewer is standing. A famous and visually stunning example is Early One Morning, 1962, in which the relationship of the vibrant red-painted lines and planes, strung out along a single horizontal axis that suggests a 3D suprematist painting, create a parallax effect as the viewer moves around it. Another groundbreaking example is Prairie, 1967. Painted in two shades of corn yellow, the lighter shade on the 'floating' parallel bars, the sculpture's unapologetic, space-hungry horizontality effortlessly translates landscape painting into the language of abstract sculpture. In arguably the greatest period, from his 'breakthrough' piece Twenty-Four Hours of 1960--his first welded steel work--to the first of the unpainted works of the 1970s, Caro continued this exploration of the relationship between painting and sculpture in the remarkable series of 'table top' sculptures: still-lives in which the objects 'depicted'--subtly counter balanced or teetering on the edge of the table/plinth, projecting beyond it into space--are purely sculptural forms.

Caro began his career as an assistant to Henry Moore and, like Moore, his early work was figurative. His later decision to take up welding is usually credited to a meeting in his studio with the high priest of Formalism, Clement Greenberg, as a result of which he went to New York in 1959. Through Greenberg, Caro met the painter Kenneth Noland and the sculptor David Smith (who often said of himself, 'I belong with the painters'). Both of these artists, as Caro often acknowledged, influenced him greatly. …

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