Caro, orchestration and Picasso

I recently saw the Caro show of "Book Sculptures" at Annely Juda in London. I enjoyed it - it’s like having a really nice meal in a fancy restaurant - everything is put together so well (and tastefully) with such great ingredients.  Once you get to a level of skill, experience or competence the safer route is to produce more and more of it. Art like this exists in the conscious ‘ego’ part of our psyches. Picasso too became fantastic at making Picassos. I love looking at Picassos though, they wash over you at times. Its not about knocking this approach, its about trying to avoid it (unless of course you want a ‘career’, then embrace it and hone it ) If you want to be remembered for more, you have to let go of the ego- One’s art should arrive as a result of the making decisions rather than the conceiving of them. its about taking a punt and riding the wave. ( metaphor fusion there!) Caro said something memorable to me once and I’ve never forgot it for it was telling and helpful. “eyes closed and keep going”  - don’t think too much , just get on with it. His work is hugely rewarding and of more relevance to a painter I think than a sculptor. As a painter I would take the certainties and commitment to definite decision making. The rest is just stuff to enjoy rather than be ‘disturbed’ by. If you are worth your salt as an abstract artist, you should be able to cut through the appearance and pick up clues somewhere. (rather than heavy handed trolling) Caro always produced work with a great sense of scale - the principle of handling scale is key - whether you like this work or not - dealing with scale is demanding. You can work big and tosh it about, but so what . Working big with real authority is a different matter. I wrote on the Hoyland show that for abstract painting the bigger the better. (I have made work that I was very pleased with on 7inches square in a tiny bedroom studio)  I would temper that line as its too clunky a phrase and I am not saying you can’t make great art on small size (Also many artists are at a stage in their lives when a big studio or any large workspace is impossible to secure.)   Big scales, rather than sizes. Scale comes about by dealing with relative sizes.

I recently tweeted an image of a sculpture by Caro that I have always had a soft spot for. Its called the Achaians - 1993 : in stoneware and steel - just under 8ft high and alongside it is Picasso’s Pigeons Cannes 1957. I have always felt the Caro was in some way related to the Picasso - It had some of the Picasso’s qualities. I could be barking up the wrong tree - but these things can do that. In fact the Narrative works were a wilful foray into political art. Was this simply idealistic and naive? For one thing art such as this does get across to a wider audience, which in this case would seem to be the point. The trouble I have with the Caro bashers is that a bad Caro is a still often better than a lot of other abstract art being made in two or three dimensions - no matter how earnest it is.