Very early in his career, Anthony Caro was an assistant to Henry Moore, the renowned British sculptor. Now known internationally as one of UK’s great artists, Caro soon went beyond Moore in terms of his total use of abstract shapes, without any references to natural forms. When asked if Western’s sculpture, India, was part of a special series:
“…There were several pieces, all of which had heavy elements in them, ingots of mild steel. I got them from Consett in Derbyshire, England where I went to a big steel factory. The ingots would come into the rolling mills on rollers and be pressed down into much thinner pieces, rather like rolling out pastry. They would eventually come out a few millimeters thick. I had used quite a lot of pieces which had been rolled in that way. Some I used in the Flats series made at a big steel yard called York Steel in Toronto. Before that I had used some thinner slabs for the Veduggio series made at a small factory at Veduggio in Italy. The factory did not trim the pieces, but supplied them as they were, and then the workmen trimmed them themselves. The seven or eight works shown at the Emmerich Gallery were done in a series; each had one or more of those great lumps, which were not easy to move about. They were put into position and then held there with other pieces of steel. The lumps are the key to this theme.”
There is a rumor that the title of India refers to the name of the ship where Caro got the material. But obviously this was not what Caro had in mind.
“The title has a reference that not even I was aware of at the time. The titles always come after the sculptures. Your assumption that it relates to the ship from which the steel came is certainly not correct, for these parts came from a steel mill. However, I think the work probably had something of the feel of the enormous size or the shape of India on the map….”
Contrary to some other works on campus, Caro’s sculpture does not build an environmental sense of space. But it does have a strong reference to architecture. To Caro, his work is strictly a perceptual experience which emphasizes the relationship of the individual parts to the whole, as in music.
“…It is very difficult to put up sculpture outdoors and it seldom looks good. It cannot compete in size or scale with a tree. If you are trying to make public art, you have to be very conscious where it is going to be sited and how the public will interact with it. The work helps them to identify where they are in the city. It should be a meeting place, like the fountain in the square used to be in the old days. It has to be user-friendly. All of these things are important aspects of the work. I do not think that is the case in private art or studio art.”