An innovative sculptor of industrial steel
Sir Anthony Caro: Born: March 8th, 1924; Died: October 23rd, 2013
At the same time, he embarked on an extended series of small-scale tabletop sculptures. For a time, he created “sculpitecture” – large works that invited the viewer to enter and explore.
In the 1990s, he rediscovered the human figure, mixing clay, steel and wood, in works such as The Trojan War, an installation of 40 sculptures representing the heroes and gods of the Iliad, and The Last Judgment, a sombre installation inspired by the Balkan wars.
He also collaborated with celebrated architects, notably Frank Gehry, with whom he constructed a wooden village in 1987. With Norman Foster and the engineer Chris Wise, he designed the London Millennium Footbridge spanning the Thames between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern.
Anthony Alfred Caro was born, the son of a stockbroker, in 1924 in New Malden, Surrey. After attending Charterhouse School, he studied engineering at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He then saw war service with the navy.
Defying his father, he studied art for a year at the Regent Street Polytechnic Institute before enrolling at the Royal Academy of Art.
While studying at the Royal Academy, Caro was an assistant to Moore, who introduced him to a world of sculptural influences not available at the academy.
After visiting the US, he produced the first of his abstract works, Twenty-four Hours (1960), a trapezoid, a round disc and a square arranged one behind the other. This initial foray into abstraction led to light, open-form sculptures such as Early One Morning, an arrangement of red steel planes and lines along a horizontal axis.
In the 1970s, he abandoned colour and began producing looser, more vertical sculptures with non-geometric shapes.
After visiting Greece in 1985, and closely studying classical friezes, he embarked on a series of large-scale narrative works, including After Olympia, a panorama more than 75ft long, inspired by the temple to Zeus at Olympia. After Olympia reflected the restlessness that led Sir Anthony, who was knighted in 1987, to readmit figure and story into his work, most tellingly in The Trojan War and The Last Judgment .
“I think it’s my job to try to push sculpture forward, to keep it moving, keep it alive,” he told The Observer in 1999. “And you don’t keep it alive just by doing what you can do; you keep it alive by trying to do things which are difficult.”
In 1949 he married the painter Sheila Girling. She survives him, as do their two sons, Timothy and Paul, and three grandchildren.