Anthony Caro believed that sculpture that was exhibited outdoors should be made outdoors. The late British artist, who died in 2013, also thought works should hang from ceilings, balance on table edges and fill awkward corners. For him, the space around a work was as important as the work itself.
This summer, Caro is celebrated across Yorkshire with exhibitions at the Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and seminars at the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art Gallery. Organised with the help of his studio and wife – who died earlier this year – the programme features 80 works, spanning 60 years of his career.
Hepworth Wakefield explores the role of architecture in Caro's work through 40 of these. Starting with his seminal painted steel sculptures and Table Pieces from the 1960s, it moves through the cage-like series made outdoors at the Emma Lake workshop in Canada, 1977, and culminates with steel, wood and Perspex works from 2013.
In 1987, Caro collaborated with Frank Gehry to design a 'Sculpture Village' featuring constructions the pair coined as 'Sculpitecture'. On completing the Millennium Bridge with Norman Foster in 2000, Caro declared that, 'Architecture has come to play an important part in my thinking during the past ten or 15 years, but when I look back I think it was always there.'
The sculptor had a long history of working in Yorkshire, especially at the Sculpture Park, which was an early supporter of his practice. Rarely-seen sketches and figurative works are on show at the park's Longside Gallery while eight of his never-before-seen Flats, rendered in rusted and varnished steel in the 1970s, shimmer under the dappled shade of giant horse chestnut trees. In the main building, the 18th-century Bretton Hall where Henry Moore permanently takes centre stage, a series of Caro's models are also on display.
That the two great British sculptors are on show under the same roof is fitting. Caro was Moore's studio assistant from 1951–1953 and they remained friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) rivals until Moore's death in 1986.