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Travel grant for trip to America

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Not wanting to meet my heroes
Anthony Caro Artist
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Friday, 13 April 2012 03:15 PM
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[Q] Did you ever meet Picasso?

Never, never. He would have overwhelmed all of us, I'm sure. I used to dream about him but I never met him.

[Q] What would you ask him if you could meet him now?

Oh, now he's out of my system in that way... in that way. He's not that sort of a threat in a way that... when I... when I dreamt about him I... I would dream these sort of conversations. What would I ask him? I have no idea what I would ask him.

[Q] What were the conversations in the dreams?

I don't know. They were sort of... I'm trying to get into his head, I think, like I tried to get into Moore's head. I did get into Moore's head. See, now, in a way, I think I'd have been more... I'd be more bowled over by meeting Matisse than Picasso. And, you know, I've learnt so much from Picasso. I've learnt so much from both those two. It's... it's amazing to have lived at the same time as those two – not at the same time, but while they were there, while they were there... while they were that important to us. I'm sure I told you that, you know, we... I got back from America and came here and Sheila was... Sheila was... I said, ‘Don't meet me; you go to bed’, and she woke up when I came into the room. She didn't say, ‘Have you had a good trip, have you... have you had a good flight?’ Nothing like... She said, ‘Picasso's dead’. That was that big a thing. It was the end of an era: Picasso's dead. They were... they were... they are giants, they are giants... they are total giants and they set the scene for all of us. You see, I don't rate Duchamp who set the scene for the present day artists but I rate... rate Picasso and Matisse right up there.

[Q] Did you meet Duchamp?

No. I didn't meet any of those people. But it was almost... it was almost my... my wish not to meet them. I didn't... I didn't have a chance to meet... I don't speak French sufficiently well to meet either of them – or Spanish, or anything. But I didn't even want to meet people like Passmore and that, who I could easily have met. Because I wanted to do it on my own... on my own, and I did not want to be carried along by anybody. It wasn't conceit that but it was a sort of independence, you know. I think also I'm easily influenced and I didn't want their influences. I did meet William Scott and he was one older person who I... knew him a bit. I suppose I knew Alan Davy a bit, and so on. He was about the same age as me. But I... I think the heroes I want to stay away from because, in a way, when I met Moore, you know, I was still a student so I was... I was learning from him. I didn't want to be a student anymore so I didn't want to meet people who might have been my teachers. But Picasso and Matisse are a different story altogether and... and they're so big, they're so big. I mean historically big; they... they rate up there with Cezanne and... and Giotto and people. They're that good. Still... still I find myself looking at books on Picasso and Matisse and... and looking at what they've done, and, you know, loving it, and saying, ‘What was he trying to do, how does he do that?’ You know?

British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro (1924-2013) came to prominence in 1963 after a show at the Whitechapel Gallery. Keen to create a more direct interaction with the viewer he placed pieces directly on the ground, rather than on plinths, a technique now widely used. He held many honorary degrees and was knighted in 1987.

Listeners: Tim Marlow

Tim Marlow is a writer, broadcaster and art historian. He founded "Tate: The Art Magazine" in 1993 and was presenter of Radio 4 arts programme "Kaleidoscope" from 1991 to 1998, for which he won a Sony Award. He has presented art programme's on BBC 1, Channel 4 and Channel 5, including a documentary about JMW Turner, and written about art and culture for various British newspapers and magazines including "The Guardian", "The Times" and "Blueprint" He is Director of Exhibitions at the White Cube gallery in London as well as a visiting lecturer at Winchester School of Art, an examiner on the Sculpture MA there and former creative director of Sculpture at Goodwood

Tags: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Marcel Duchamp, William Scott, Alan Davy, Paul Cezanne, Giotto di Bondone, Victor Pasmore

Duration: 4 minutes, 39 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008