Anthony Caro, the British sculptor, has died, aged 89
A key figure in British Modernism, Caro was also an influential teacher
By Javier Pes. Web only
Published online: 24 October 2013
Anthony Caro, who died yesterday (23 October) aged 89, became an artist despite his father's wish that he became a stockbroker "and made money". Having read engineering at Cambridge, he studied sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools in London (1947-52) and worked as a part-time assistant to the sculptor Henry Moore in the early 1950s. He escaped Moore's shadow and in turn cast a long shadow of his own.
Caro first came to public attention in the 1960s. His large, brightly painted abstract sculptures placed directly on the ground were a radical departure; people were accustomed to seeing sculpture raised on a plinth.
Working in steel had been pioneered by the US artist David Smith, whom Caro met in 1959. When Smith died in 1965, Caro inherited the American artist's stock of materials. While best known for his steel sculptures, Caro also worked in other materials including wood and cement. For a chapel in the Church of St Jean Baptiste in Bourbourg, France, he created a series of monumental sculptures, which included a spiralling cement baptismal font and two internal towers made of oak.
Other later works took a narrative turn. A piece that referred to the Classical legend of Europa and the bull was inspired by a group of school gym vaulting horses that Caro saw outside a junk shop in London. He transformed them into galloping horsemen with the addition of pottery parts made in France and rough-cut pieces of wood and steel.
In 1998, Caro was the first contemporary sculptor to exhibit at London's National Gallery.
An influential tutor at London's St Martin’s School of Art from 1953 to 1981, Caro inspired a generation of British artists, including Phillip King, Tony Cragg, Barry Flanagan, Richard Long and Gilbert & George.
In a statement, Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate, placed Caro among the outstanding sculptors of the past 50 years "alongside David Smith, Eduardo Chillida, Donald Judd and Richard Serra".
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