Sir Anthony Caro was born in 1924 in New Malden, Surrey. He studied sculpture at the Royal Academy, London, 1947–52. Following his studies, Caro worked as assistant to Henry Moore.
Caro’s first major show was at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1963, where he exhibited large abstract welded steel sculptures, brightly painted and standing directly on the ground. He was a highly influential teacher at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, a role he occupied from 1953 to 1981. His questioning approach opened up new possibilities, both formally and with regard to subject matter. Major exhibitions of his work include retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1975; the Trajan’s Market, Rome, 1992; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1995; Sculpture into Architecture at the Tate, London, 1991; Sculpture from Painting at the National Gallery, London, 1998 and The Last Judgement at the Venice Biennale, 1999. Caro had a major retrospective at Tate Britain, London in 1995.
Caro has been awarded many prizes, including the Praemium Imperiale for Sculpture in Tokyo, 1992 and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sculpture, 1997. He holds honorary degrees from universities in the UK, USA and Europe. Caro was knighted in 1987 and received the Order of Merit in May 2000. He was also part of the design team for the Millennium Bridge that runs from St Paul’s Cathedral to Tate Modern across the Thames.
Sir Anthony Caro is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest sculptors and renowned for introducing a radical departure from the way sculpture had hitherto been exhibited. Although he abandoned his earlier style which was highly figurative his work still retained a relationship to the figure through its gestural qualities and scale. Over the ensuing decades, Caro has developed and expanded what he called “the language of sculpture.” Caro worked in steel, comprising beams, girders and other industrial materials, which he frequently painted in bright primary colours. He also worked with other materials, including bronze, silver, lead, wood and paper.
Caro was obsessed with the immediate, real and physical presence of sculpture in relation to a viewer and making the 'sculpture more real. He wished to reverse conventional perspectives about materials, surface, scale, form and space, which he successfully accomplished by radically reworking heavy-weight and industrial materials. He changed the way we look at these materials, changing their symbolic relationship to industry and placing them in an art context. He also pioneered the removal of the plinth in art, by placing his work directly onto the ground, which became a proliferated and adopted aesthetic in contemporary sculpture.