Table Piece V, 1966 by Anthony Caro
Private collection, UK.
D.BLUME (ed.) Anthony Caro: Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. 1, Table and Related Sculptures 1966-1978, Cologne, Germany, 1981, pp.38, 171, no. 5, ill. D. WALDMAN. Anthony Caro, Oxford, 1982, p.76, no.72, ill..
'My Table pieces are not models inhabiting a pretence world but relate to a person like a cup or a jug. Since the edge is basic to the table all the Table Pieces make use of this edge which itself becomes an integral element of the Piece'
(A. Caro, unpublished statement 1966/67, quoted in I. Barker, Quest for the New Sculpture, Farnham, 2004, p. 161).
Table Piece V, as the title suggests, is only the fifth sculpture in an extensive series that would span four decades. Caro’s decision in 1960, to do-away with the plinth and place his works directly on the floor, changed the face of sculpture. His decision in 1966, to begin a series of smaller scale works that would stand, or in some cases balance, on a table, was not a rejection of these principles but instead an extension of them. The ‘Table Pieces’ were conceived as sculptures in their own right and not maquettes or models for larger works. The earliest examples all contain elements that extend below the horizontal plane of the table edge and as a consequence cannot be displayed on the floor. These sculptures interact with the tables that support them, creating a dialogue with the viewer as they extend into their space. They are the antithesis of traditional sculpture that rests placidly in the middle of a plinth, offered up for humble contemplation.
In contrast to Caro’s large-scale floor sculptures, his ‘Table Series’ was intended to be relatable on a human scale. The incorporation of recognisable objects, as seen in Table Piece V, enable the viewer to relate the scale to their own hand. In doing so he eliminates any implication of represented scale inherent in a maquette. The earliest examples from this series have elegant lacquered finishes and inconspicuous welded joins that create a jewel-like quality. The blue lacquer used for Table Piece V enhances this and at the same time produces a palpable energy. H.F. Westley Smith comments on the earliest examples within this series, ‘These are not grand gestures, but suggestions and terse statements, sculptural epigrams that tease us into thought. Theirs is an expression of a light spirit, of an abstraction that remains otherworldly but nevertheless ‘within easy reach’’ (H.F. Westley Smith, Anthony Caro Small Sculptures, Farnham, 2010, p. 14).
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