This exhibition was held at The Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I started with some of his works in the open air, ‘Promenade, 1996’ is a large five piece sculpture in painted steel by the lake at YSP. This sculpture is a combination of curved and angular shapes which look very industrial in nature, helped by its utilitarian grey colour. They demand attention by their size, but don’t hold it for me. There is no texture variation, or interesting areas to explore which is what I think is what really holds my attention in a sculpture.
Moving on to the Longside gallery it became obvious that the industrial nature of steel forms and their uniform colouration was a theme that runs through Caro’s work. His early work, “First National, 1964” is quite a typical piece, constructed of steel and painted in bold uniform colours, this time in green and yellow. Caro is credited with moving sculpture off the plinth and into the floor, so his work is an important stepping stone from the classical statues on plinths to today’s ‘anything goes’ approach. Both this and the bold colouration of his pieces would have been quite a change in his time, but the pieces do now seem dated. Again, I find that they do not hold my attention for long.
It is interesting that Caro worked as an assistant to Henry Moore, but his style is very different to his, using angular steel rather then Moore’s more organic shapes.
An exception to this style was the work “Xanadu, 1986-1988”, again in steel, but this time it looks like the steel is recycled from a previous purpose with some paint evident, rusted and then waxed. The shapes in this piece are less uniform and the surface has much more texture and pattern. It is interesting looking back on this sculpture to write this blog, my visit was all a bit of a rush so I took more photographs than notes. I remember thinking at the time that I really liked this sculpture but looking at the image of it I took below, as a sculpture this work seems to sit in the room like a jumbled piece of junk. What was fascinating for me about this piece was the texture and patterns, which demanded a closer examination. The re-use of metal shows in the surface pattern and decay, indicating it’s past use. I enjoy the textural marks and these offer potential for me with my work. It would be interesting to view this sculpture again and see if it does work from a distance at other angles. In form it appears much less cohesive than his uniformly coloured pieces.
The Longside gallery had quite a lot of his later works that featured the use of Perspex sheets. I was interested in their use and how they were joined to the steel pieces, particularly in “Mirror, 2013” where it was slotted through the steel or supported like a shelf. This like a lot of his later works seemed cluttered and lacking in any cohesive form though.
My favourite later works of Caro were the three books “Sans Serif, 2013”, “Turner’s Book, 2011-2013” and “A Long Tale, 2011-2013”, all made from cast and forged steel and stoneware. I’ve no idea how he managed to join together steel and ceramic without it shattering, but the two mediums work well together in these pieces and I’d love to have a go at trying to do this. Again I think it is the portrayal of decay which appeals to me and also the detail and texture variation which invites closer inspection and exploration.
Overall a very interesting exhibition and I feel I can take a number of his methods / use of materials into my work.
Anthonycaro.org, (2015). Sir Anthony Caro – Sculptor. [online] Available at: http://www.anthonycaro.org/ [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].
Annelyjudafineart.co.uk, (2014). Annely Juda Fine Art | Exhibitions | Anthony Caro: The Last Sculptures (2014). [online] Available at: http://www.annelyjudafineart.co.uk/exhibitions/anthony-caro [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].