Credited with revolutionising the face of British sculpture, Sir Anthony Caro’s family confirmed that he has died, aged 89.
His death will be felt by creatives across the world. Sir Anthony was very much still at work; this June he unveiled his new exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in Bloomsbury. It was here that he pledged to continue working until he reached 100 years old. “I've chosen a very pleasant life because it's something I like doing”.
Before the abundance of accolades to his name, a young Anthony Caro began his career as a fresh post graduate from the Royal Academy, under the teachings of Henry Moore – admittedly not a bad place to start. Experimenting with almost any material he had access to, Caro’s work ranges from modest stone figurative sculptures to life size creations of terracotta, wood and leather. On his first visit to the US in search of a replacement for clay, Sir Anthony came across a steel works, where his love affair was to begin - “It enables me to do things that no other material allows”.
It was at an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1963 where Caro was first brought to the public’s attention. His decision to place the large abstract brightly painted sculptures on the floor, rather than on a plinth was well received by spectators. Never been done before, Caro literally brought the art to their level where they were forced to interact with it on a one-to-one basis.
His success spiralled through the sixties, exhibiting internationally, in collectives and solo. From a generation with a generally stagnant view on Modern Art, Caro consistently adapted and challenged the conventions thrown his way. "Sculpture did have some assumptions and some, well, rules almost, and I broke those rules. That opened things up not just for me but other artists as well." From 1953-81 he taught at St Martin’s School of Art in London and it was here that his progressive thinking was to influence the next generation of artists – William Tucker, Richard Long, Barry Flanagan, Gilbert and George to name but a few. He established a welding shop within the college where he aimed to provide students with a platform for stimulating collaboration.
Cass Art are proud to have had the opportunity to work with Caro, through the Cass Sculpture Foundation. Among many prolific works, The Goodwood Steps, unveiled in 1996 was the largest sculpture in Britain – standing boldly at 120ft long. The solid steel piece features as part of the Cass Sculpture Foundation along with other works of Caro’s, visit their website to see more.
Six decades, thousands of pieces and a will to create have seen Sir Anthony Caro accumulate a mass of prestigious awards. He was the first contemporary sculptor to exhibit alone at the National Gallery in 1998. Not limited to artistic prizes, he was presented with the key to New York City in 1976, knighted in 1987 and received an Order of Merit by HM Queen Elizabeth in 2000.
A masterful sculptor and pioneer in contemporary art.
Sir Anthony Caro, OM.
March 8 1924 - October 23 2013