Anthony Caro, Veduggio Glimpse, 1972-1973
Valerie Fletcher: The British sculptor, Anthony Caro is one of the most pivotal figures in the history of modern sculpture. His work is nearly always abstract. Only his earliest works in the 1950s have any figural references in them. He started out as a studio assistant to the great sculptor, Henry Moore, who worked in natural organic shapes, evoking things like rocks and clouds and human bodies. Caro, however, visited the United States in 1959 and there he saw abstract geometric sculptures of David Smith and he met a very influential critic named Clement Greenberg who was an advocate of abstraction in modern art.
Caro, when he returned to Britain, started making constructed steel sculptures. He soon became one of the most sophisticated and accomplished practitioners of geometric abstraction and he then became an influence on the next generation. He was for example a teacher of sculpture in London for many years and he came and taught in the U.S. at Bennington College in Vermont, where he influenced sculptors such as James Wolfe and Willard Boepple.
One of the reasons that Caro was so greatly admired is that while working in sheets of heavy industrial steel plate, he never made preliminary drawings. He never made preliminary models. He improvised. In other words, he used steel sheet as if it was light and easy to use as pieces of paper. He would cut and weld and bend using of course powerful tools in industrial technology, but he would improvise. He would take a sheet and cut it, cut another one and weld it together, and he would work quickly. In some cases, he could make a sculpture in a single day, although most took a little longer.
In late 1972 and early 1973, he was invited to work in Veduggio, Italy. Italy at that time had many small steel factories and they were going out of business rather rapidly in the late 60s and early 70s as steel manufacturing moved offshore to other countries. At the Veduggio Steel Factory, he had one of his assistants work with him and so he could work very quickly. He made a series of sculptures like this one called Veduggio Glimpse. You can see that the form is horizontal, it relates to the ground and yet it is lifted slightly off the ground. It has an upright backing to it, which is cut in a kind of rolling, curvilinear way. And some had suggested that this title, Veduggio Glimpse, might refer to seeing the landscape around Veduggio as he was coming and going from the factory where he was working. One of the most innovative things that Caro did is to suggest a sculpture and did not need to have any reference point at all. This piece being long and low lying is totally contradictory to the traditions of upright figural sculpture. When you look at this piece, it is simply the sheer beauty and sophistication of the small and large forms relating to each other.