Staring at art from the Tate's collection and thinking about it

Sunday, 20 January 2013

#11 Dusty - Sir Anthony Caro

Sir Anthony Caro, #11 Dusty, 1993, ink, oil pastel, graphite, acrylic and paper, 280 x 350 x 358 mm, Tate.

If there's anything more stupid than attempting to look properly at a painting or drawing online, it's trying to look at a sculpture online.  Actually, that's not quite true.  Sticking your knob in an electric pencil sharpener is stupider than either, but you get my point (as does the electric pencil-sharpener).  It's a three-dimensional object.  We don't have 3D internet yet.  Do we?  I don't think we do.

I'm giving it a go anyway, though, because if you click on the handy link above you will be able to see today's work of art, a paper sculpture by 'Sir' Anthony Caro, from four different points-of-view - front, the left, the right, and, wait for it, the back.  Not that there's any front or back when it comes to modernist sculpture, really.

This is actually more post-modern than modern, dating from a period when previously fiercely abstract artists such as Caro, Stella and Phillip King began to incorporate decorative or even loosely figurative elements into their work.

I'm not keen on it here.  The giant-sized pencil-sharpenings effect (Intentional? It must be, surely) makes me think of a humourless Claes Oldenburg, while the patterning brings to mind a Crowded House bass-player's paisley waistcoat.  Perhaps because autumnal colours were very much 'in' around about when this sculpture was made, it seems very much of it's time rather than transcending it.  And maybe it's because it reaches for some sort of timelessness, while unaware of how rooted in the moment of its making that it fails.

So I've decided I don't like a sculpture, after viewing some photographs, because of some trite aesthetic reasons.  It's just taste.  Does that matter?  Does it mean anything?  Not sure.

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