The last works created by the sculptor Sir Anthony Caro in the two years before his death in 2013 will be the focus of a major exhibition at Annely Juda Fine Art in London. Regarded as one of the greatest British sculptors of his generation, Caro’s long career is characterised by his innovative use of materials. Between 2011–2013 Caro began to experiment with Perspex, a material that he had only employed in one previous sculpture, the 2000 Duccio Variations No. 5. Initially interested in the transparent quality of glass, Caro turned to Perspex as a less fragile and easier material to work with. It also provided greater opportunity to experiment with colour; many of the works in the 25-strong Perspex series employ coloured sheets of Perspex, which contrast with the rusted steel or wooden structures into which they are incorporated. In End of Time (2013), for example, a shockingly bright red sheet of Perpex is placed across the top of the sculpture, while in River Run an earthy, semi-translucent green gives the metal pipes and sheets behind it an almost ghostly appearance.
Two of the works in the series play homage to Cézanne’s paintings of card players, and were inspired by a visit to an exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery in 2011. Sackbut (2011/12) and Card Game (2013) depict ‘figures’ of folded, yellow rusting steel bent over steel and Perspex tables, evoking Cézanne’s famous paintings. Also dating from 2011/12, Venetian bridges the gap between the Perspex series and the other major group of sculptures that Caro was working on at the time, the Park Avenue series. He was so pleased with the juxtaposition of steel and coloured Perspex in this work that he created another version for the Park Avenue series, which initially began as a major public commission for Park Avenue in New York.
A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue with an essay by Alastair Sooke will be available.
Coinciding with the exhibition, a monograph will be published by Phaidon, including a series of specially commissioned photographs by Toby Glanville, essays by Michael Fried and Clement Greenberg, and texts by Anish Kapoor, Richard Deacon and Anthony Gormley amongst others.
Anthony Caro (1924 – 2013) 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 on a one-to-one basis. 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.
Anthony Caro The Last Sculptures will run from 11 September – 25 October 2014 .