Sir Anthony Caro

#15 Point


Not on display

Sir Anthony Caro 1924–2013
Card, acrylic paint, watercolour, felt pen, graphite on cardboard base
Object: 280 × 457 × 460 mm
Presented by Tyler Graphics Ltd in honour of Pat Gilmour, Tate Print Department 1974-7, 2004


#15 Point and #11 Dusty (T11798) are the individual titles of two Hand-Coloured Paper Sculptures, a second series of paper relief sculptures that Caro made at the fine art print workshop Tyler Graphics in the State of New York in 1993. Where the earlier series (see #68 Untitled, T11797, and #73 Untitled, T11800) had been wall-mounted, the new ones were small and intended to be set on a plinth. Methods and materials were also slightly different. On this occasion Caro used not only sheets of white paper, but also duplex sheets in which two colours are layered onto one another, and sheets containing plaster. Again the artist hand-coloured the work and extended his range of media, now including ink and oil pastel as well as graphite and acrylic. Once assembled, the works were all sprayed with gold varnish.

Anthony Caro first worked with Tyler Graphics in 1981–2 when he produced over 100 reliefs and two freestanding sculptures by constructing shapes made from pressed wet pulp moulded around plaster forms. Once it had dried, Caro modified the pulp by cutting, folding, and compressing it and then joining pieces together. Each sculpture was built up from a rigid backing plane, made of material such as plywood covered with paper, and this served as a support not just for the paper itself but for wooden dowels and slats. Although Caro was exploring the sculptural possibilities of paper, he was also deliberately working on the boundary between different media, where painting, drawing and sculpture met. The sculptures, collectively entitled Paper Relief Sculptures, were coloured at every stage of their construction and again when finally assembled, with pencil, acrylic, spray paint and chalk. Caro has explained:

In the paper sculptures I get close to the graphic idea, to painting ideas and away from being so sculptural. At Ken Tyler’s I was doing all these things, using intaglio, lines, using shading, and trying all sorts of possibilities – and with some in three dimensions. We would take a piece of wet paper and I would draw on it, Ken would drape it over chairs and things and then the next day, when it was dry would pin it to the wall. (Quoted in Barker, p.251.)

#15 Point is multi-sided and made of folded card, rolled as a spiral and embossed on three sides with horizontal, vertical and grid lines in red, blue, yellow, white and grey. It is fixed at an angle of 45 degrees to a cardboard base marked with blue and red felt pen. The result is a compact but complex structure of open-ended, interlocking shapes painted and drawn to present white or yellow external facades, and much darker blue or black interiors.

In 1981 Caro had been at the forefront of the British sculptural avant-garde for twenty years, working mainly on large-scale structures in painted steel. In 1967, however, he had begun what proved to be a long-lasting series of ‘table pieces’, human-scale sculptures whose span and dimensions equated to the reach of outstretched arms. A new development took place in the mid 1970s when he looked to the Old Masters as a source of inspiration and began using quite different materials: clay, silver, lead, wood and paper.

Further reading:
Elizabeth Armstrong, Pat Gilmour and Kenneth E. Tyler, Tyler Graphics: Catalogue Raisonné 1974–85, Minneapolis 1987.
Ian Barker, Anthony Caro: Quest for the New Sculpture, Aldershot 2004.
Sean Rainbird and Pat Gilmour, Print Matters: The Kenneth E. Tyler Gift, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2004.

Valerie Holman
April 2009

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Display caption

While other sculptors worked with Tyler to make two-dimensional works, Caro chose to make a series of paper sculptures. Each one is unique, incorporating paper whose specially-prepared colour, weight and texture has been produced in collaboration with Tyler. Caro’s early paper sculptures were flattened and mounted on the wall. These later works are intended to be viewed on a plinth.

Gallery label, July 2008

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