Catalan Cowl

November 30, 2007

Catalan Cowl
1987-1988, by Sir Anthony Caro, welded steel
41 3⁄4 x 38 x 17 inches.
Promised gift of E. Blake Byrne '57, in honor of Raymond D. Nasher '43

Sir Anthony Caro is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest living sculptors. Creating both abstract and figural metal sculptures throughout his career, Caro was among the first leading sculptors to move away from the use of pedestals and display his work directly on the ground.

Catalan Cowl, detail

"I think my big break in 1960 was in challenging the pedestal, killing statuary, bringing sculpture into our own lived-in space," Caro says. "And doing that involved a different kind of looking. These sculptures of mine incorporated space and interval so that you could not grasp them from a single view. You had to walk along to take them in."

Caro, who was born in Surrey, England, lives and works in London. In 1987, he participated in an artists workshop in Barcelona, Spain. The experience inspired him to explore the flow of line in sculpture. The following year, Caro created the "Catalan" series of steel table sculptures.

Catalan Cowl represents Caro's increasingly figurative work during the 1980s. Although the piece is loosely cubistic, its name suggests that its form is derived from a Spanish monk's hood. Caro had previously rejected the traditional practice of modeling sculpture after life drawings or art of the past, but he has often alternated between abstract steel constructions and figural bronzes in his later career.

Tate Britain, in London, mounted a retrospective of Caro's work in 2005.