Lot 24
  • 24

Sir Anthony Caro, O.M., C.B.E., R.A.

220,000 - 280,000 GBP
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  • The Hunt
  • painted steel
  • height: 293cm.; 115┬╝in.
  • Executed in 1966, the present work is unique.


Mr. and Mrs. H. Gates Lloyd, Haverford, P.A.
Acquavella Contemporary Art, Inc., New York
Private Collection, Toronto, Canada


Dieter Blume, Anthony Caro, Catalogue Raisonné Vol.III, Verlag Galerie Wentzel, Cologne, 1982, cat. no.895, illustrated p.197.


Structurally sound. The work has recently benefitted from a light reconditioning, carried out by the Artist's studio Barford Sculpture Ltd, London. There are a few very minor, slight nicks to the painted surface, including to the top corner of the grip and to the screws and to two corners of the base. This excepting the work appears in excellent overall condition. Please contact the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present lot.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

By the mid-1960s, Anthony Caro was firmly established as one of the most exciting and innovative sculptors at work anywhere in the world. Between his solo exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 1963 (which announced him as a major talent) and his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1975, Caro was a key figure in major international shows of the ‘New Sculpture'.

His first innovation was to take sculpture ‘down from the plinth’ (to use his own phrase) onto the floor and out into the space occupied by the viewer. Essential to this process was not working in bronze, with all its fine art, ‘back-on-the-plinth’ associations. Instead, Caro chose to work in steel and let his sculpture be guided by the pre-exisiting, industrial shapes this material came in: I-beams, tubes, sheets and grilles.

His second – and concurrent – innovation was to introduce colour as an equal and unifying element to the work. By painting his sculptures in flat colours, using commercial paints, Caro again keeps them away from ‘art history’ (and its interest in finish and patina as evidence of the artist’s hand) and more in the ‘everyday’ world of architecture.  This, incidentally, is why Caro was so insistent that his works be repainted as soon as the original finish began to fade or was cracked and broken by weathering: the surface itself should not distract, it is the colour – in symbiosis with the sculptural form – that is important.

Caro’s use of colour, despite this ‘prosaic’ application, is, in fact, not as neutral as it seems and is very painterly in its emotive content (and he often looked for guidance on colour choices from his wife, the painter Sheila Girling). A sculpture made from similar base elements has a radically different presence – and intention – when painted bright blue or deep red. The blue of The Hunt is Caro in exuberant mode, both reflecting and enhancing the upwards drive of the steel tubing, as compared, for example, to the more meditative, restrained feel of the deep-red Strait, from 1967, sold in these rooms in June 2014 for £290,500. To this up-lift, Caro then adds a counterpoint through the rectangular section of grille, which changes shade (becoming more or less opaque) as the viewer moves around the work.  Indeed, The Hunt fulfills all the unique criteria that the eminent art historian and critic Michael Fried noted in his introduction to the 1969 Hayward Gallery retrospective as being key to Caro’s greatness. Unlike the work of American sculptor David Smith, whose works ‘even at their most abstract, striding or attenuated, stand and confront us like traditional statues,’ Caro’s sculptures ‘neither stand nor lie: they open, or rise, or suspend, or spread, or turn, or bend, or stretch, or extend, or recede…’ (Michael Fried, introduction to Anthony Caro, The Arts Council / Hayward Gallery, London 1969, p.11).

The title of the work, as ever with Caro, is playful and allusive – a response to its emotive effect on the artist himself once completed. Should one see in these forms an abstract re-telling of Diana & Actaeon, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses? There is certainly a poetic wit and playfulness that marries with Ovid’s poetry. Caro’s sculpture of the 1960s may be resolutely abstract – as Fried noted, ‘All the relationships that count are to be found in the sculptures themselves and nowhere else’ (ibid. p. 13) – but it also contains something very human – a sense of spirit.