Thursday, June 3, 2010

Note on Anthony Caro: A Life in Sculpture
Anthony Caro: A Life in Sculpture, Julius Bryant, 2004

"I'm not a fan of Calder. There is something too elegant, fragile, in his work."

This is about as negative as Caro allows himself to get. This small book (the title makes it sound massive!) features a wonderful selection of photos and a long, breezy interview with the then 80-year-old Sir Anthony. As it happens, I agree about Calder. But Caro himself is someone whose work has been devalued over the years since his peak in popularity in the 60s.

It seems in the 60s (looking back) there were wars going on between the Clement Greenberg/Michael Fried-approved artists (Caro, Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, etc.), the Pop artists, the Minimalists, and (the ultimate winnahs!) the post-Minimalists. In retrospect, that all seems pretty silly. People try hard to pigeonhole artists (is John Chamberlain a "Pop artist"? Is Roger Brown?), but it is their own work that deserves response, not what club they belonged to.

I say this in part because I love Anthony Caro's work. I, like most people, was mainly familiar with his early-60s welded steel sculptures--which I have always liked tremendously. But this little book shows that there is a lot more to see. I will be making a point of seeking out these later Caro pieces.

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