Artist profile

Anthony Caro

Anthony Caro played a pivotal role in the development of twentieth century sculpture. He was born in Surrey in 1924 and educated at Charterhouse School and Christ's College Cambridge where he graduated with a degree in engineering. After studying sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools in London from 1947–52, he worked as an assistant to Henry Moore in the 1950s.

He came to public attention with a show at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1963, where he exhibited large abstract sculptures brightly painted and standing directly on the ground so that they engaged the spectator directly. This was a radical departure from the way sculpture had hitherto been seen and paved the way for future developments in three-dimensional art.

His teaching at St Martin’s School of Art in London from 1953 to 1981 was very influential. He questioned assumptions about form, material and subject matter in sculpture, and his work inspired a whole younger generation of British sculptors including Phillip King, Tony Cragg, Barry Flanagan, Richard Long and Gilbert & George. His teaching led to a flowering and a new confidence in sculpture worldwide.

He often worked in steel, but also in a diverse range of other materials, including bronze, silver, lead, stoneware, wood and paper. Major exhibitions included retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1975), the Trajan Markets, Rome (1992), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (1995), Tate Britain, London (2005), and three museums in Pas-de-Calais, France (2008), to accompany the opening of his Chapel of Light at Bourbourg. His work has been collected by museums throughout the world.

He was awarded many prizes, including the Praemium Imperiale for Sculpture in Tokyo in 1992 and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sculpture in 1997.

Biography

1924
Born in New Malden, Surrey, England.
1937– 42
Attends Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey. At the age of fifteen, he begins to model in clay and is introduced to sculptor, Charles Wheeler, who offers the opportunity to work as an intern during the school holidays.
1942–44
Caro’s father, opposed to his son taking up a career in sculpture; persuades him to study architecture then engineering at university which he pursues at Christ’s College, Cambridge. During vacations he studies sculpture at Farnham School of Art, modeling clay figures and portrait busts from life. He executes his first surviving sculpture 'Figure (Thinker)' (1942).
1944–47
Caro serves in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. Following his discharge, he enrolls in the Sculpture Department at the Regent Street Polytechnic London.
1947–52
Attends the Royal Academy Schools in London. He studies and copies Greek, Etruscan, Romanesque, and Gothic sculptures. Among the students in the sculpture school is Frank Martin, later head of Sculpture at Saint Martin’s School of Art, who becomes a lifelong friend.
1949
Marries a fellow student and painter, Sheila Girling, whose support and criticism are of fundamental importance to him throughout his career.
1951
The first Open Air Exhibition of Sculpture at Battersea Park encourages Caro’s interest in the avant-garde. He visits Henry Moore, the most significant sculptor in Britain, who takes him on as a part-time assistant. Caro and his wife move to Much Hadham, close to Moore’s house and workshop. Caro's first son, Timothy, is born.
1953
Frank Martin, now at St. Martin’s School of Art, invites Caro to join him to help build what was to become the most significant sculpture department in the country. He teaches part-time for two decades (until 1981).
1954
Caro moves to Hampstead and begins to find his own identity as a sculptor and makes abstracted figurative sculptures in clay and plaster, sometimes cast in bronze, such as 'Man Holding His Foot' (1954).
1956
Galleria del Naviglio holds his first solo exhibition where he shows twenty sculptures including 'Woman Waking Up' (1955).
1957–58
He is invited by the Arts Council to participate in its 1957 Contemporary British Sculpture exhibition, which tours regional cities in Britain. He is the only British sculptor invited to exhibit at the 24th Venice Biennale. Caro’s second son, Paul, is born.
1959
Caro receives a Ford Foundation English-Speaking Union grant to visit the United States where he meets, amongst other artists, sculptor David Smith and painter Kenneth Noland (with whom he develops a particular affinity). Having met the art critic Clement Greenberg previously he writes to Noland to express his enthusiasm for Greenberg’s approach: “I think there were some keys to a new way of thinking about sculpture for me”.
1963
Solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery including 'Early One Morning', together with fourteen new abstract steel sculptures. The show marks a turning point in Caro’s reputation.
1964
Exhibits 'Month of May' (1963) and 'Hopscotch' (1962) at Documenta III, in Kassel, Germany.
1967
The Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo, Holland holds a retrospective exhibition of Caro’s work.
1969
Caro is appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
1975
A retrospective exhibition of Caro’s work is held at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. It travels to Minneapolis, Houston and Boston.
1987
Receives his knighthood.
1989
Caro holds a solo show at Annely Juda Fine Art, London, where he regularly exhibits henceforth.
1995
Caro’s largest retrospective exhibition of 113 works is shown at the new Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, curated by Yasuyoshi Saito and Ian Barker within architectural settings designed by Tadao Ando.
1996
With architect Norman Foster and engineer Chris Wise, Caro wins the competition for a new footbridge spanning the Thames from St. Paul’s to Tate Modern, London.
1998
'Caro – Sculpture From Painting' is shown at the National Gallery, London – this is the first occasion a contemporary sculptor has been invited to exhibit there. Caro exhibits 'New Sculptures' at Annely Juda Fine Art, London.
2000
Caro receives the Order of Merit in May 2000. The order is restricted to twenty-four living members. He is the only sculptor since Moore in 1963 to be awarded this special distinction.
2004
Caro’s 80th birthday is marked with 'Sculpture Two' (1962) displayed outside Tate Britain and several exhibitions all over the world.
2008
'Promenade' (1996) is displayed in the Courtyard of Burlington House in Piccadilly during and after the annual Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
2010
A new series of steel sculptures, 'Upright Sculptures', is shown at Annely Juda Fine Art, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.
2011
An exhibition of five large sculptures from various periods is shown on the Roof Garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
2012
To mark the London Olympics, Caro designs the first UK Gold Kilo coin for the Royal Mint.
2013
Dies 23 October 2013 in London.

Selected exhibitions

2018–2019
50 Years, 50 Artists, Annely Juda Fine Art, London
2016
Bronze and Book Sculptures, Annely Juda Fine Art, London
2014
The Last Sculptures, Annely Juda Fine Art, London
2011
Anthony Caro on the Roof, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
2010
Upright Sculptures, Annely Juda Fine Art, London
2007
New Galvanished Sculptures, Annely Juda Fine Art, London
2005
Anthony Caro, Tate Britain, London
1995
Anthony Caro, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
1975
Anthony Caro: a Retrospective, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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