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The need for challenge


Advice to young artists
Anthony Caro Artist
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I don't know how to put myself into their shoes. And it's a really hard thing. I can tell them about art; I can tell them about the life. The life is something; you've got to be very devoted to art and all that. We've talked about that. But when you say where should they look art-wise and so on or what... you know, which direction should they be, I... I truly don't know. I truly don't know and I.... I think they're in a very, very tough position at the moment; it's not easy. It's not easy at all. I would say always look at the best. Don't look at the second-best; look at the best and learn from the best. But you can say things like that, but you can't really tell them how to cope with 2005 when you... when you’re... when you were living most was in 1960 or 1970, you know. 2005 is too different from that.

[Q] So you don't think the... there are certain universal principles that would have applied to Giotto, that would have applied to Titian, that would have applied to Manet, that apply to you, that would apply to an artist now?

Making good art but I can't... I can't think of anything more. What would you say?

[Q] I think it's to do with being receptive, isn't it, to what's out there.

Yes, yes, yes.

[Q] It really is to keep... is to keep an open eye and an open mind.

Yes, right.

[Q] I think curiosity is the essence of... of a lot of good art, even if you dismiss a lot of it.

And knowing how to hang on in there and hanging on in there, and not being content with something that's half good and half there. You have to come on ‘til it’s really there, and I must say when I look at a group of artists’ work, the very good people stand out and they stand out really by their kind of... by their... determination is not the word I want; it's... but... but they're so focused, and they keep the pressure on until the thing's finished. And I think that's very important. You can't really tell them about, about the size of their... of their... of the cup that they have. You can only tell them to fill it but you can't tell them about the size of the cup. So, in a sense, that's... that's the thing with the Constable, you know. Constable actually was a great artist but it... but he didn't have a very big variety of where to go and everything. I... it's not easy and... and that's, I think, probably why I don't teach, in that I would be expected to be able to answer that question and say, ‘Where do I look and what do I... what is your advice?’ And I can't give it; I can't give it. And, you know, I could give it fifteen, twenty years ago because I was much more convinced, much more sure of... of where I stood and what I thought then, and I've become less sure of it. The world has changed a lot and, in a way, I've become, I think, more, you know, as Clem used to say, tunnel-visioned. And I think that you do... you shut out that... that sort of openness in a way where you're getting so totally focused. You get so focused that you can't... you know, you haven't got the energy to focus on other people too, or the time or the something; I don't 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: young artists, direction, challenges, good art, receptive, curiosity, hanging in there, content, openness, focus, energy

Duration: 4 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008