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A little bit of travelling


'Either a life or nothing'
Anthony Caro Artist
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[Q] What did your mother think about the idea of you being an artist? If your father was, broadly speaking, against it and had... had an idea for your career, what did she think?

I don't know. She... we didn't discuss it. You know, it was my father who was... who was the one who was against it. God, I was prickly. I remember after I'd started... I'd gone to... to art school then and something or other came up in conversation and my father said, ‘Is it the same in your game?’ And I was furious. ‘It's not a game’, you know. I didn't mean that; I didn't mean that, you know. But, you know, I was so determined it was taken as seriously as it could be, you know? And I think I've always taken it that seriously so that, as you said, do I have something to prove? Yes, I do. And it's either a life or nothing and I'm quite taken aback when I see people at art school often who... or past that who are never going to really make it... take it seriously, not because they're not good, because they don't want to enough. And... and that's... that's... that seems to be funny; that seems to be... if you feel like that you should be doing something different.

[Q] Does that mean to say you don't have so much sympathy with or understand people who are painters in their spare time or people who make sculpture in their spare time?

I have no sympathy with them whatever but good luck to them. Let them have some fun; it's pleasure, it's lovely. It's like me playing squash or tennis or... or you... you surfing or something. It's something... we... we should be allowed to enjoy ourselves and people do enjoy themselves, and it's fine. I cannot take them seriously. I can’t talk to them about art. No, if I'm going to talk to them about art I want somebody... if I'm going to talk to anybody about art I want somebody who takes it as seriously as I do.

[Q] And in order to show that, you've got to devote every possible hour or day to it?

I think so. Yes, I think so. I think it's a life.

[Q] How did you feel when your own son, Paul, made it clear he wanted to be an artist? Because actually it's all very well saying...

Poor old chap!

[Q] Were you encouraging or did you try and dissuade him?

No, I... he... he's... I think he's incredibly good. He can draw like... like nobody's business, and he's a good painter too but he... I don't really want to talk about him on the thing because it's not quite fair on him.

[Q] I just meant that whole idea of when he was young though, as a parent, when you... when you realised... 

I think he had a real problem in having a father who was an artist. That is a real problem and I think it's very tough on him, that, very tough. So life is easier in a way for Tim because he's... he's not going to... to have to live down or anything. But all my grandchildren can... can draw and Tim's son, who's fifteen, is a lovely drawer, but in a very sort of literal way. My granddaughter is extraordinary. That's hers up there. I just think that's just marvellous, you know, those three figures as seen from a child of five. It's just lovely.

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: Paul Caro

Duration: 3 minutes, 47 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008