Dec 1, 2011

REVIEW | Anthony Caro: A Life in Sculpture, Julius Bryant, 2004

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

When most people hit about 65, they’re ready to throw in the towel and retire, but Sir Anthony Caro isn’t wasting any of his life, and put out a whole new collection of work at the age of 80 years old in 2004.  The work was introduced at an exhibition at Kenwood House, London and to accompany this exhibit, Merrell published a book by the exhibition curator, Julius Bryant. Anthony Caro: A Life in Sculpture includes two interviews with Caro as well as 50 color illustrations and gives insight to what life is like as a sculptor, with emphasis on his latest collection in 2004.

Anthony Caro is considered to be one of the most influential sculptors of today and is most well known for his brightly painted abstract steel sculptures from the sixties, but as you learn from the book he is still actively producing new work, even in his eighties. Although it’s a quick and easy read, the interviews with Caro let you know exactly what the artist himself is thinking when he makes his pieces and where he is drawing influences, other than reading someone else’s interpretation of his art. The large, brilliantly colored photos are primarily of his pieces from the 2004 exhibit, but there are also several photos from some of his earlier works in the second half of the book. Other than just a few, the pictures are in color and included with the photos of his earlier work is a short description about the piece. Even though the descriptions are only about a sentence long, I found them to be really helpful since Caro’s work is abstract and I wish Bryant would have included them with the pictures of his latest collection as well.

Witness, Anthony Caro, 2004
The book begins with an 11-page introduction, which gives a short biography of Caro’s life, and the work he’s done in previous years. The introduction starts with a wordy description of Anthony Caro’s workshop and then goes into detail about the most overwhelming of the 16 new works that were shown in the Kenwood House exhibition. The couple of paragraphs that Bryant spends talking about the over-lifesize sculpture, Witness, is unfortunately the most depth he goes into about a single piece, since most of the book is made up of the two interviews with Caro.  Although I wish Bryant would have spent more time talking about the meaning of individual pieces, I think the questions that were asked in the interviews were relevant and helped to paint a picture for the reader of what it is like in the life of Anthony Caro, as well as letting Caro give some explanation of his new collection of works to his fans.

Whether you were able to attend the New Sculpture: The Way It Is exhibition or not, this little book will let you experience it through nicely detailed pictures as well as help you get to know a dedicated and hardworking artist. 

-Sarah Shackelford


  1. I respect that Caro is still working! He's not ready to throw in the towel quite yet! I'm curious as to why you chose this book to review. It'd be interesting to hear, if maybe as a sculptor yourself, what your take on his work was. I'd like to have seen a page from the book so that I could get a feel of the layout or maybe even a description. He sounds like a very devoted artist!
    -Jennifer Wright