Anthony Caro is known for his sculptures made from welded industrial steel components. He made the first of these, Twenty Four Hours (1960), following a visit to the United States in 1959 when he saw the work of the American sculptor David Smith and met the influential critic, Clement Greenberg. These encounters triggered a significant turning point for the artist, Caro had previously had successful exhibitions in London at Gimpel Fils of smaller scale figurative work made in bronze, The gallery declined to show his new work, partly because its scale and weight made it unsuitable for their space but also because the directors, like those of the Marlborough Gallery thought that no-one would buy it. Anthony Caro;’ account of this period of great change in his work on Voices of art resonates with his feelings at losing his gallery.
Unlike more established galleries, the Kasmin Gallery (which opened in 1963) was eager to make a commitment to Caro’s steel sculptures. Artist Richard Wentworth in his article, Eavesdropping on Artists' Lives: The life and career of Anthony Caro re-lives the never to be forgotten impact of his first encounter with Caro’s sculpture, Prairie.
Anthony Caro was an influential teacher at St. Martin’s School of Art during the period 1952 – 1979, and also taught at Bennington College in Vermont, United States, where he cemented important friendships with artists there, in particular the painters Kenneth Noland and Jules Olitski. John Kasmin on Voices of art communicates the pugnatious energy of Caro’s impromptu seminars with his students, held in the Kasmin Gallery during his exhibitions there.
A crucial influence on Anthony Caro in addition to David Smith and Clement Greenberg, was the painter Sheila Girling, who had become his wife in 1949. She was intimately involved with the evolution of his steel sculptures and he consulted her constantly.
In 1993 Anthony Caro was interviewed by Paul Moorhouse for Artists’ Lives. His life story interview will be accessible in 2026. For more information, see the British Library’s Sound and Moving Image Catalogue.
Biography and education
Anthony Caro was born on 8 March 1924 in London, England. When he was three years old his father, a stockbroker, moved the family to Surrey. Caro attended Charterhouse School and during the summer holidays studied at the Farnham School of Art (University for the Creative Arts) and with sculptor Charles Wheeler.
Anthony Caro attended Cambridge University to study engineering from 1942 – 1945. He joined the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm during World War II. In 1946 he studied sculpture at Regent Street Polytechnic, and from 1947 – 1952 was a student at the Royal Academy Schools. While at the Royal Academy in 1948 Caro met the painter Sheila Girling, and they married soon after. Anthony Caro assisted sculptor Henry Moore from 1951 – 1953. Caro was knighted in 1987 and received the Order of Merit in 2000.
Anthony Caro died on 23 October 2013 in London, aged 89.
- Article by:
- Cathy Courtney
- Art and money
Cathy Courtney learns about the art market from Artists’ Lives recordings.
- Article by:
- Duncan Robinson
- Art and money, Curating, Pop Art, Sculpture
Duncan Robinson compares his own memories of the London art world of the 1950s with those in the Artists’ Lives oral history collection.
- Article by:
- Hester Westley
- Sculpture, The artist's studio
Hester Westley interrogates the choices painter Sheila Girling made in relation to her career when her sons were young, and suggests her crucial role in the work of her husband, the sculptor Anthony Caro.