Photos: Anthony Caro’s Lightweight Steel Lands on the Met Rooftop

04/26/2011 11:24 AM |

Anthony Caros After Summer (1968, at right) and Blazon (1987-1990, at left).
  • Anthony Caro’s “After Summer” (1968, at right) and “Blazon” (1987-1990, at left).

Today Anthony Caro‘s mini sculpture retrospective opens on the Metropolitan Museum rooftop, with five sculptures spanning five decades. It’s certainly nothing as spectacular as Jeff Koons, Big Bambu or Roxy Paine, but despite my apprehensions it’s a very strong (and much more engaging) exhibition.

The bent, warped, sliced and seemingly delicate steel is a nice counterpoint to the surrounding skyline, the location adds to certain pieces’ uncanny sense of weightlessness and, as opposed to the aforementioned shows up there, Caro maintains a distinctly human scale.

View of Anthony Caros rooftop installation at the Metropolitan Museum, looking north.
  • View of Anthony Caro’s rooftop installation at the Metropolitan Museum, looking north.

The British sculptor attended yesterday’s media preview of the exhibition, offering his thoughts on the location, New York, and the state of contemporary art. “Artists always need to be pushing the culture forward,” he said. “Not all the way over the edge, though. It’s like downhill skiing: you need to be slightly out of control to keep moving.”

The oldest piece in the rooftop mini-retrospective: Midday (1960).
  • The oldest piece in the rooftop mini-retrospective: “Midday” (1960).

He also dropped news that he’s working on a forthcoming sculpture for the Park Avenue median (currently occupied by Will Ryman’s giant roses). After riding up Park in a cab he realized that one of the site’s major challenges is creating something that will be visible from a vehicle going 30 miles per hour. “I started working on a piece that would be one block long,” he said, “now it’s extended to three blocks.” He’s still working on a small scale model of the extremely long piece, but expects it to be installed in March 2012. So there’s that to look forward to. In the meantime, don’t miss Anthony Caro on the Roof, on view through October 30 whenever the weather’s decent (like today).

Another view of Midday with its cantilevering quadrangle of steel.
  • Another view of “Midday” with its cantilevering quadrangle of steel.

Anthony Caros After Summer (1968).
  • Anthony Caro’s “After Summer” (1968).

From here After Summer evokes waves, wings and a whales tale.
  • From here “After Summer” evokes waves, wings and a whale’s tale.

My favorite piece, but also the hardest to photograph, Odalisque (1984) is full of sliced spheres, cut curves and unexpected textures.
  • My favorite piece, but also the hardest to photograph, “Odalisque” (1984) is full of sliced spheres, cut curves and unexpected textures.

From the front, Blazon (1987-90) looks like deconstructed architecture, but from the back...
  • From the front, “Blazon” (1987-90) looks like deconstructed architecture, but from the back…

...its a play of abstract folds and surprisingly curving surfaces.
  • …it’s a play of abstract folds and surprisingly curving surfaces.

The shows most recent piece, End Up (2010), is part picture frame, part portal from the front.
  • The show’s most recent piece, “End Up” (2010), is part picture frame, part portal from the front.

From the back, End Up is more assertively abstract.
  • From the back, “End Up” is more assertively abstract.

Anthony Caro in front of Midday. He was very charming, talkative and candid about his work.
  • Anthony Caro in front of “Midday.” He was very charming, talkative and candid about his work.

Cao answered questions alongside his piece After Summer.
  • Cao answered questions alongside his piece “After Summer.”

Of the Met rooftop garden he said: I generally dont like outdoor sculpture, but I somehow consider this to not be outdoors. Its special... You couldnt ask for a better backdrop.
  • Of the Met rooftop garden he said: “I generally don’t like outdoor sculpture, but I somehow consider this to not be outdoors. It’s special… You couldn’t ask for a better backdrop.”