America made me see that there are no barriers and no regulations.
Gagosian is pleased to announce Caro and North American Painters, an exhibition of sculptures by Anthony Caro from the 1960s and 1970s shown together with contemporaneous paintings by his friends and peers.
Contextualizing aesthetic dialogues between Caro and his fellow artists, Caro and North American Painters features significant floor sculptures by Caro including Capital (1960), Month of May (1963), Smoulder (1965), and Hog Flats (1974). Paired with these works are paintings by American artists Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, and Larry Poons, as well as Canadian artist Jack Bush.
Caro was among the most influential British sculptors of his generation and his career had a transatlantic reach. During a trip to the United States in 1959, he observed the emerging American art firsthand, encountering the work of David Smith and befriending Frankenthaler, Noland, and critic Clement Greenberg. Upon his return to London, he initiated a radical new approach to his practice by welding and bolting together steel beams, plates, tubes, and other elements. In the 1960s he painted these constructions in bold, flat colors, developing a range of other finishes over the course of the subsequent decade. As one of the first artists to discard the traditional sculptural pedestal, Caro made works that occupy the same space as the viewer, and by grounding them with horizontal elements combined with linear and planar structures, he effectively activated their surroundings.
Caro’s innovations in composition, geometry, and the use of color and space had echoes in the work of the painters he admired. Loosely grouped under the banner of Color Field painting or Post-painterly Abstraction, these artists’ work was acknowledged by Greenberg for its “lucidity” of color and “physical clarity and openness.” Approaching the support as a flat, unbroken plane, Bush, Frankenthaler, Noland, and Poons applied dilute oil and acrylic paint to raw canvas, generating compositions with highly saturated colors. Olitski experimented further through use of a spray gun, producing paintings marked by fields of brilliant hues. In Noland’s case, this investigation of color and form led to his development of shaped canvases. Such inventions have particular resonance when considered alongside Caro’s use of industrial materials.
In addition to his influential tenure at London’s Saint Martin’s School of Art, Caro returned to the United States from 1963 through 1965, having accepted a teaching post at Bennington College, Vermont. There, he met frequently with Olitski, who was on the faculty, and with Noland, who lived nearby. Frankenthaler also had close ties to Bennington, having graduated from the college in 1949. Caro would maintain close friendships with vanguard American painters of his generation throughout his career, exchanging ideas and exploring new aesthetic possibilities. According to Paul Moorhouse, curator of the exhibition and chief executive of the Anthony Caro Centre, “During the early 1960s, Caro pioneered the creation of abstract sculpture, but he was not alone. His conversations with Noland, Olitski, and other painters had a two-way significance, encouraging all these artists to explore new, radical approaches. This exhibition reveals the ways that—together—they transformed the language of art.”
A catalogue featuring an essay by Moorhouse and drawing on archival materials, including correspondence between Caro and his fellow artists, will be published to accompany the exhibition.
The Summer 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly features “Helen Frankenthaler: A Painter’s Sculptures”—an account of Frankenthaler’s first body of sculpture, made in Caro’s studio in the summer of 1972, with texts by both artists.
Chloe Barter, John Kasmin, and Paul Moorhouse on Anthony Caro
Join Chloe Barter, John Kasmin, and Paul Moorhouse as they discuss the work and legacy of Anthony Caro. Their conversation took place in conjunction with the exhibition Caro and North American Painters, which included sculptures by Anthony Caro from the 1960s and 1970s, shown together with contemporaneous paintings by his friends and peers.
Carol Armstrong and John Elderfield
In conjunction with the exhibition Drawing within Nature: Paintings from the 1990s at Gagosian in New York, Carol Armstrong and John Elderfield discuss Helen Frankenthaler’s paintings and large-scale works on paper dating from 1990 to 1995.
The Romance of a New Medium: Helen Frankenthaler and the Art of Collaboration
Inspired by the recent retrospective of Helen Frankenthaler’s woodcuts at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, William Davie writes about the artist’s innovative journey with printmaking. Davie illuminates Frankenthaler’s formative collaborations with master printers Tatyana Grosman and Kenneth Tyler.
Katy Hessel, Matthew Holman, and Eleanor Nairne on Helen Frankenthaler
Broadcaster and art historian Katy Hessel; Matthew Holman, associate lecturer in English at University College London; and Eleanor Nairne, curator at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, discuss Helen Frankenthaler’s early training, the development of her signature soak-stain technique and subsequent shifts in style, and her connections to the London art world.
Helen Frankenthaler: A Painter’s Sculptures
On the occasion of four exhibitions in London exploring different aspects of Helen Frankenthaler’s work, Lauren Mahony introduces texts by the sculptor Anthony Caro and by the artist herself on her relatively unfamiliar first body of sculpture, made in the summer of 1972 in Caro’s London studio.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2021
The Summer 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Carrie Mae Weems’s The Louvre (2006) on its cover.
To Bend the Ear of the Outer World
Conversations on contemporary abstract painting
June 1–August 25, 2023
Grosvenor Hill, London