(b New Malden, Surrey [now in Greater London], 8 Mar. 1924).
British sculptor, one of the most influential figures in post-war British art. After training as an engineer at Cambridge University and serving in the navy in the Second World War, he studied sculpture in London, then from 1951 to 1953 worked as part-time assistant to Henry Moore. His early works were figures modelled in clay, but a radical change of direction came after he visited the USA and met David Smith in 1959. In the following year he began making abstract metal sculpture, using standard industrial parts such as steel plates and lengths of aluminium tubing together with pieces of scrap, which he welded and bolted together and then generally painted a single rich colour. The colour helped to unify the various shapes and textures and often set the mood for the piece, as with the bright and optimistic red of Early One Morning (1962, Tate, London). This, like many of Caro's sculptures, is large in scale and open and extended in composition (he describes it as ‘dancing along’); it rests directly on the ground, and Caro has been one of the leading figures in challenging the ‘pedestal’ tradition. He taught part-time at St Martin's School of Art in London 1953–79, and he had a major influence on several of the young sculptors who trained under him, initiating a new school of British abstract sculpture (see New Generation). In the 1970s his work became much more massive and rougher in texture, sometimes incorporating huge chunks of metal. In the 1980s he returned to more traditional materials and techniques and began making figurative (or semi-abstract) works in bronze, including (in the early 1990s) a series inspired by the Trojan War. His reputation is high in the USA as well as Britain, but he is not without detractors: the critic Peter Fuller described the type of work for which he became famous as ‘nothing if not of its time: it reflected the superficial, synthetic, urban, commercial American values which dominated the 1960s’.