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English sculptor. He had a conservative training from 1947 to 1952 at the Royal Academy Schools, London, which was greatly enriched by the two years (1951â€“3) he spent as assistant to Henry Moore, learning not only from his ideas but from the books in Mooreâ€™s library.
Woman Waking (1959; London, Tate) exemplifies Caroâ€™s work of the 1950s when he modelled figural works in a loosely expressionist vein that sought to express how the body felt from the inside out. The lumpy, awkward and ponderous masses of these works owe much to Picasso and Dubuffet, especially the latterâ€™s Corps de dames series of 1950.
By the end of the decade Caroâ€™s growing dissatisfaction with this mode of working led him to experiment with other materials and more spontaneous effects, often explored during teaching projects at St Martinâ€™s School of Art, London, where he worked part-time from 1953. These experiments bore fruit after a visit to the USA from 1959 to 1960 during which he was influenced by the critic Clement Greenberg and by the work of such artists as Kenneth Noland and David Smith.
On his return Caro began welding standardized metal units into abstract configurations, which were then further unified by being painted in a single primary colour. Although their syntax was derived from Cubism and was uncompromisingly abstract, these open form sculptures placed directly on the ground still related to the figure through their gestural or bodily calligraphy and scale. They rapidly took on a predominantly horizontal axis, a lyrical mood and a light open infrastructure of cantilevered planes and lines as in Early One Morning (1962; London, Tate; see fig.).
Caro denied the weight, appearance and attendant connotations of the material and made sculpture which seemed almost to hover above the ground, touching it lightly at several discrete points.
Throughout the later 1960s Caro also made a number of small sculptures known as Table Pieces, incorporating tools, handles and other manual references in which he maintained an equivalence between size and scale without sacrificing that anonymous handling of material central to his practice.
Caroâ€™s first solo show at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London brought him considerable critical attention. He was quickly regarded as a major figure for his role, both through his work and his teaching, in re-orientating the mainstream of modernist British sculpture into an abstract constructed mode. The previous decade had been dominated by the monumental monolithic sculpture of Moore, and by the so-called â€˜Geometry of Fearâ€™, eviscerated figurative sculpture by artists such as Reg Butler and Lynn Chadwick. Caroâ€™s example can be said to have created a new school in its wake.
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