Floor Piece 'Hé', 1972
19 3/4 x 46 3/4 x 28 1/4 inches
50.2 x 118.7 x 71.8 cm
50.2 x 118.7 x 71.8 cm
Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Private Collection, UK
Dieter Blume, Anthony Caro, Catalogue Raisonné Vol. I: Table and Related Sculptures 1966–1978, Galerie Wentzel, Cologne, 1981, cat no.130, illus b/w p192
DescriptionIn 1960 Caro abandoned figurative sculpture in favour of a far more abstract approach to form. He began working in metal, a material he had never used before which allowed him to construct and unite disparate forms, Most significantly, he decided to eliminate the sculptural base so common in traditional sculpture, which he felt only served to remove sculpture from the realm of everyday universal experience that art should exist within. As he explained to the dealer Ian Barker in 1965,
‘we live in a world full of objects, tables, chairs, crockery, motorcars, etc. What makes sculpture more special, isolates it in fact, from all of this? Often it is the delimiting of its world from ours…We put it on its base and stick it on the mantelpiece, (it is as if) the base says,’ My world ends here-now yours, the spectator’s starts’…Now if you bring the sculpture off its base it begins to have only those merits that are intrinsic in its nature- either it is lifeless junk or it carries an intention, it has poetry about it or its nothing.’
This conceptual approach resulted in a whole new approach to the formal process of creating and understanding sculpture, the foundations of which broke down barriers between the viewer and the art work and representation of space and the understanding of space itself. From the sixties, Caro’s sculpture began to exist with its environment, his series of smaller Table sculptures, became a part of the table, in some cases they fell over the edge giving the impression of linear shapes written in the air. Meanwhile his large scale sculptures were placed directly on the floor, within the viewers realm of experience.
Floor Sculpture ‘He,’ is an example of the few small scale floor works that Caro produce in tandem with his large scale sculpture. Despite their size they were not intended as maquettes but to exist as sculptures in their own right. In 1968, Caro began to assert the curve in his work, and Floor Piece ‘He’ is a wonderful example of the movement that this shape introduced to Caro’s sculpture. The meaning of the word Hé, to which the title relates, means 'harmony' in Madarin and it might be suggested that this idea was taken as a precedence for the way that disparate metal shapes; angular triangles and rounded half spheres are welded together to create a complete form that exists fully within its environment.