Day 198/365 of Steel – Anthony Alfred Caro

Sir Anthony Alfred Caro (8 March 1924 – 23 October 2013) was an English abstract sculptor whose work is characterized by assemblages of steel using ‘found’ industrial objects.

Orangerie, Welded steel, Painted
Fig 1: Orangerie, Welded steel, Painted
Photo: Anthony Caro © Barford Sculptures Ltd.

Anthony Caro encountered modernism when working as an assistant to Henry Moore in the 1950’s.  After being introduced to the American sculptor David Smith in the early 1960s, he abandoned his earlier figurative work and started constructing sculptures by welding or bolting together pieces of steel such as I-beams, steel plates and meshes. Twenty Four Hours (1960), is one of his earliest abstract sculptures in painted steel.

Midday, 1960, Painted steel
Fig 2: Midday, 1960, Painted steel
Photo: Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Wiesenberger Fund ©2023 Anthony Caro

Being abstract, these creations were entirely unfamiliar but possessed a tangible presence. When first shown in Caro’s one-man exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, in 1963, they caused a sensation, heralding a revolution in the way sculpture was regarded. Caro’s radical, new approach to methods and materials was liberating, and it changed the very idea of what sculpture was – and could be.

Straight On, 1972, Steel rusted with red paint rubbed in
Fig 3: Straight On, 1972, Steel rusted with red paint rubbed in
source: annelyjudafineart

Caro is often credited with the significant innovation of removing the sculpture from its plinth. Caro’s sculptures are usually self-supporting and sit directly on the floor. In doing so, they remove a barrier between the work and the viewer, who is invited to approach and interact with the sculpture from all sides. Always working without sketches or plans, Caro is an artist with an innate sense of form and materials, who prefers to work toward “making it real” than to operate from preparatory designs.

River Song, 2012
Fig 4: River Song, 2012
Photo: Mike Bruce, courtesy Gagosian Gallery © Barford Sculptures Ltd.

Caro’s work is represented in over 150 museums and other public collections worldwide and he received a lifetime achievement award from the International Sculpture Center in 1997. Caro is the only contemporary sculptor to have been exhibited at London’s National Gallery (in 1998) and was the subject of an important mid-career retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1975.

Early One Morning, 1962
Fig 5: Early One Morning, 1962
Photo: © Barford Sculptures Ltd.

In 2005, the Tate Britain in London presented a major Caro retrospective. When you encounter Caro’s sculptures, you realize steel can be breathtakingly beautiful. His sculptures are powerful and at the same time graceful and elegant like a light-footed dancer.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

You May Also Like

Day 19/365 of Steel – The Gherkin

On the 28th of April 2004, The Gherkin was officially inaugurated. Norman Foster (architect) and Ove Arup (engineering) created a true masterpiece in skyscraper engineering. The Gherkin is an example…
Read More

Day 2/365 of Steel – Roy Hofheinz

Roy Hofheinz was born on the 10th of april 1912. As co-owner of HSA (Houston Sports Association) he was the driving force behind the construction of the famous Astrodome. The…
Read More

Day 29/365 of Steel – Menashe Kadishman

Menashe Kadishman (21/8/1932 – 8/5/2015) I discovered Kadishman’s work during our visit to the Jewish Museum in Berlin.The Memory Void, one of the symbolic spaces on the ground level of…
Read More