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Learning from Henry Moore


Working with Henry Moore
Anthony Caro Artist
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These people like McMillan and... and Garbe and... and Machin and so on, you know, were all sculptors from the past. I said, ‘That can't be what sculpture's about; it cannot be it. It just doesn't have relation, any relation, to sort of what I'm trying to do. Who is the best modern sculptor around? Well, there's this chap called Reg Butler who’s just coming up, and there's this chap called Henry Moore who I... we've heard of a bit'. I think that Epstein was a bit too old. Henry was about fifty-five, so it was quite early, and he was beginning to get talked about, and I thought: I'll find out where he lives and go and see him. So I went up there and I knocked on the... the door and he said, ‘Yes?’ He came in and he said, ‘Yes?’ And I said, ‘My name's Tony Caro and I'd like to work for you’. And he said,  ‘Oh, oh, well you might have telephoned’. Good old Henry. And then: ‘You'd better come in and have a cup of tea’. So I went in and had a cup of tea, showed him my photographs of what... the work I was doing. And then he said, ‘I've got nothing for you at the moment', he said, ‘but I... we're building... we're building a bronze foundry, so in six months’ time we might have something for you. So be in touch with me in six months'.

Well, six months to the day I telephoned him, and said, ‘Do you remember me?’ He said, ‘Yes, I remember you. If you want to come, start on Monday'. So we moved up there – to Much Hadham – and I started on Monday. And I worked for two years for him, and he was very generous to me. He was wonderful to me, actually. He let me have the run of his library, so that I would take a book out and bring it back the next day, or two days later, and then take another book out, and so on – books on negro art, which I had never seen a piece of negro art. Surrealism, cubism: I didn't know what they meant. That was how... I knew there was something wrong with what I was being taught at the Academy. These people, they were just... Picasso was laughed at at the Academy, and all this was completely like an opening of a new world to me, to see this stuff. And then I used to... Henry would like to talk about art, and he'd like to have a discussion with you. ‘Who do you like?’ You know? ‘If you had... if you can choose Velasquez, a Masaccio and a Rubens, which would you choose?’  You know? I mean that sort... I mean, not very critical or very... you know, things like that – little... little games. He played those games a lot with me. The other chap, not very much, who was there, because he wasn't so interested. I was interested in that.

And then I used to drive Henry into London because he used to be... I think he was a trustee of the Tate or the National Gallery, or something. He was certainly a trustee of the National Gallery... he was a trustee of both, and he was a trustee of the National Gallery when they bought that... that "Old Woman" by Cezanne, you know? I remember him saying, ‘We bought a very good Cezanne’. And, you know, on the way back I would... I would... we'd talk about what he'd done and what he'd seen. He'd say, ‘Oh, I've been to...’ I remember him saying it; I remember these little things. I want to remember the little things. ‘I've been to Chelsea School of Art, and I've been to the Slade, and I saw an... an interesting... an interesting young sculptress; she's just starting. Her name is Elizabeth Frink'. It's funny, isn't it? And Rosemary Young, who was at the... at the Slade, was a girlfriend of... of Reg Butler. And, you know, we'd talk all... on the way back about art a lot and... and then the next day he'd say, ‘Now let's see what you did yesterday’. In the evening he'd say, ‘Come on, show me these’. And we'd go through my drawings, and he said, ‘Look, you know, where's the light coming from? Do you... are you... are you inventing the light or did it really come from the right side? Or did the light come from your eyes? If the light came from you, then the bit that's closest to you is going to be the whitest.’ I mean, he taught me all this stuff; nobody ever taught like this before. He said, ‘But, you know, the laws of light, like as you turn round, the further away from the light it is, the darker it's going to be’, and so on. Or, you know, ‘the closer to you, the bigger’. Like perspective, even with a figure, or ‘the closer to you, the more intense, so your leg would be intense to me and your body and face, because it's further away, would be vaguer’, you know. He would accentuate all those things. Of course in his drawings they were very accentuated. But it taught me how to represent something that was... that was three-dimensional on a flat sheet, which I had never done before, because before they taught me to try and draw like Ingres which is... which is nothing to do with that at all. And I mean that was... that was a big... a big leap for me to learn that.

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: Much Hadham, Andrew MacMillan, William Garbe, Arnold Marchin, Henry Moore, Reg Butler, Jacob Epstein, Paul Cezanne, Elizabeth Frink, Rosemary Young, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Duration: 6 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008