Thursday, December 13, 2012

Retrospective of a world-renowned sculptor

With a career spanning over six decades, Sir Anthony Caro (born 1924) is one among the most acclaimed living sculptors of Britain. ‘Caro: Close Up’ is probably the first ever exhibition of his monumental work conceptualized by any American museum since a MOMA retrospective in New York way back in 1975.

Focusing on some of his early drawings and a series of small-scale sculptures done in a wide range of media, the exhibit brings together close to sixty pieces from the 1950s onwards until the present day. Although Anthony Caro is known for large, brightly painted abstract works, the artist has worked even on a small scale. Many of his early figurative bronzes point to continuities with later sculptures in bronze and steel that play with the edges, tops, and sides of their respective table supports.

The exhibition also includes his most personal sculptures first made in paper/cardboard, mostly away from his workshop and assistants in London, before they were cast into metal. Importantly, drawing has always remained core to his art practice, not as mere designs for ambitious sculptures but as another facet of his private work. Stored in the studio archive usually, just a handful of them have ever been shown. Exhibited together with his famous sculptures, these drawing will offer fresh insight into the vivacious visual research behind his abstract art.

The small sculptures made by him swoop-n-dip below their supports frequently, tending to hang down from the table edges, jutting out almost into the viewer’s space. He nearly shocked the British art fraternity by dispensing with the traditional pedestal in the ’60s and started to place his monumental sculptures on the ground directly. The sculptures presented in ‘Up Close’ remind us that he taught them to get down. It is tough to reconcile these lyrical ‘Table’ pieces with his later, slightly more enigmatic work done in ceramics, paper and bronze. Curving planes characterize many of the paper sculptures and reliefs in the show from the ’80s and ’90s.

‘Caro: Close Up’ is on display at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, through December 30, 2012.

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