This year, four of Yorkshire’s (UK) most influential visual arts organisations – the Henry Moore Institute, The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, comprising the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle – celebrate the career of one of Britain’s greatest sculptors, Sir Anthony Caro (1924–2013) with a summer programme of exhibitions and events from 18 July until 1 November 2015.
Caro in Yorkshire has been developed by the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle partnership in collaboration with the artist’s family and studio, and with the active involvement of Sheila Girling, Caro’s wife, before her death on 14 February 2015. It is grounded in two significant exhibitions at The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Showcasing over 80 works spanning 60 years of Caro’s career, the content of the complementary exhibitions ranges from early figurative studies on paper – some annotated by Henry Moore during Caro’s time as his assistant – to large scale works in the open air. Caro in Yorkshire also presents a selection of Last Sculptures, created shortly before the artist’s death which are making their UK debut.
‘Sculpture hovers between painting and architecture… I begin to grasp how close in thinking are the worlds of the painter, sculpture and architect,’ wrote Caro in 1985. While Yorkshire Sculpture Park showcases the rich relationship Caro had with painting and materials, The Hepworth Wakefield takes Caro’s thoughts on architecture as a starting point, exploring his interest in scale and the use of architectural features within his work.
At The Hepworth Wakefield, the David Chipperfield-designed galleries provide a perfect setting to explore Caro’s interest in architecture, bringing together 40 works in total, from large-scale painted steel works made in the 1960s, such as Twenty-Four Hours (1960) – one of the first steel works Caro made – to the series entitled Table Pieces, and a presentation of jewellery, wearable works by Caro that highlight his art at an intimate scale.
Caro collaborated with world-famous architects such as Frank Gehry, Tadeo Ando and Norman Foster on a number of works including London’s Millennium Bridge, which informed Caro’s output in the second half of his career. Within his own practice Caro called this development ‘Sculpitecture’, a term he applied to works that visitors could physically enter, as well as view. The Hepworth Wakefield features one such inhabitable work, Child’s Tower Room (1983/1984), a wooden sculpture that children can explore. In The Hepworth Wakefield gallery gardens, visitors can view Palanquin (1987/1991) – a work inspired by the 1987 Sculpture Village, a collaboration between Caro, Gehry and Girling.
At Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a large display of rarely-seen sketches and figurative works from Caro’s early career are presented in dialogue with those marking a major shift in style after his first visit to the United States in 1959, including a bronze portrait of preeminent US art critic Clement Greenberg, who was an important advocate of Caro’s work. Caro’s introduction to the work of artists including sculptor David Smith, and painters Jules Olitski and Kenneth Noland inspired a radical departure from figurative works to the ground-breaking welded steel sculptures which were exhibited on the ground.
The large open space of YSP’s Longside Gallery provides an ideal setting for early painted works which emphasise the collaborative artistic relationship that Caro had with Sheila Girling. Girling played an important role in advising on the colours to be added to Caro’s steel sculptures, for example suggesting that Early One Morning (1962) might be improved being painted its now iconic red, rather than its original green. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park exhibition continues throughout the historic landscape with a series of monumental works including Promenade (1996) and a special presentation of Flats, which Caro made in America.
Both The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park close their respective exhibitions with a selection of Caro’s Last Sculptures, some exhibited for the first time. Having explored the possibilities of constructing sculptures with glass elements, Caro worked with large sheets of Perspex. These Perspex elements are combined with crushed, painted, rusted steel and found objects, often incorporating considerations of scale and architectural elements. This remarkable body of work demonstrates a consistency of vision across decades, united with an experimental attitude that has led Caro to be widely considered one of the most celebrated sculptors of our time.
Throughout the duration of the exhibitions, Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle will also present an open-air work by Caro in central Leeds. Situated outside Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute, Caro’s sculpture will overlook The Headrow, the city’s busiest thoroughfare, with thousands of passers-by being able to view a work by one of Britain’s most important sculptors.
As part of Caro in Yorkshire, the Henry Moore Institute will convene an academic conference entitled ‘Sculpture: 1965’ on 25–26 September 2015 taking place at Leeds Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Speakers will discuss the importance of the year 1965, widely agreed to have been an important turning point in the artist’s career and include Professor Martin Hammer from the University of Kent and author John Spurling.
Lisa Le Feuvre, Head of Sculpture Studies, the Henry Moore Institute, said: ‘Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle is a celebration of the richness of sculpture that can be found in the region where both Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth formed their sculptural practices that have influenced the way we understand sculpture today. Caro’s importance to sculpture is immense and his relationship to Yorkshire is key in this, from his relationship with Yorkshire Sculpture Park to his work with the Henry Moore Studio at Dean Clough in Halifax during the 1990s.’
Peter Murray, Founding Director, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, said: “Caro was one of the first artists to support Yorkshire Sculpture Park and was a staunch advocate of the region’s artistic heritage and growing reputation as a world destination for sculpture.”
A Caro in Yorkshire catalogue will be available featuring in-situ photography and texts by Tim Marlow, Peter Murray CBE, Dr Helen Pheby and Eleanor Clayton.