Anthony Caro

Just heard the news about the death of Anthony Caro. Although he’s been less on the critical radar in recent years, he was truly a great artist. My feeling about his work was always that it was light, and clearly that has nothing to do with its materials, but with the feeling it projects. What I mean is creative, imaginative, able to change, and of course unlabored. As it happens I also just discovered an interview with Caro from 2011, conducted by Robin Greenwood, a student of his a long time ago. In other settings Greenwood hasn’t held back in his criticism of the frontality of Caro’s work. Greenwood wants a sculpture to unfold from every side, and in this interview tactfully broaches the subject. I think Caro’s response is very, very interesting. He says his work is three-dimensional, and further that you have a front which I am addressing now, and a back that most people are unlikely to want to look at—or words to that effect. He is talking about having a relationship with the work, which he characterizes as analogous to a relationship with another person. This is astonishing. There is nothing of the sort in the critical literature of modernism, and how it can be squared with the more abstract of his works, those that belong to a period in which anthropomorphism was something to avoid, is a question worth pondering. I always thought his early pieces had a figurative level, and that the fact they were made for a viewer standing in front had something to do with the feeling of lightness, but now I’m seeing deeper implications.

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Anthony Caro, The Window 1966-67

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