Skip to main content

On the Met's Roof Garden with Sir Anthony Caro

Anthony Caro, Met Roof Garden
Anthony Caro on the Roof, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the foreground, After Summer, 1968. Painted steel.
Collection of Audrey and David Mirvish, Toronto. In the background, on the left, Midday, 1960. Painted steel. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Wiesenberger Fund, 1974; on the right, Blazon, 1987-90. Steel painted red. Courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, and Annely Juda Fine Art, London.
In the far background, Central Park South.

On Monday morning, an overcast but warm spring day on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the younger-than springtime British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro (b. 1924) turned around and gestured toward his artworks and the sweeping backdrop of Central Park, proclaiming the scene "a lovely place to show." Indeed, this week's opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Roof Garden, with its heady mixture of park views, social mingling, and world-class art, has now become one of the perennial signs of springtime in the city. With this "mini-retrospective" for the one of the most influential sculptors of his generation, the five abstract steel works fit well in the lofty urban landscape. "I have a great affection for New York," Caro said. "It's a spiritual home for my work."

Caro, who lives and works in London, represents a living, breathing connection to the traditions of both modern and contemporary sculpture. In creating works of art meant to sit on the ground, a move that literally and figuratively knocked sculpture off its pedestal, and in his use of found objects and architectural allusions, he ensured his own place in the history of the medium. He still works every day, "always looking forward," he said, "veering toward craziness but not going too far."

Anthony Caro, Met Roof Garden
Anthony Caro (British, b. 1924). End Up, 2010. Steel rusted, cast iron and jarrah wood.
The artist, courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York


Following his studies at the Royal Academy Schools in London, Caro worked as assistant to Henry Moore (1898-1986), the most prominent sculptor of the era, in the early 1950s. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he traveled to the U.S. where he met painter Kenneth Noland (1924-2010) and sculptor David Smith (1906-1965). He began to steer away from figurative work and toward postwar abstraction. As with the best of abstract art, the most basic gestures and elements of his work function as elegant “notes” – and he himself has made the musical analogy - in the overall composition. In this mini-retrospective, his Midday (1960), the first of his painted works, reveals his ideas from this formative period of creative change. While welded and bolted, as in David Smith's constructivist works, the bright yellow Midday assumes a horizontal orientation balanced with its upright and precarious points.

Anthony Caro, Met Roof Garden
Anthont Caro (British, b. 1924). Midday, 1960. Painted steel. The Museum of Modern Art, New York,
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Wiesenberger Fund, 1974 

Like billowing sails ready for a voyage, the repeating quarter circles of After Summer (see top image) a work from 1968 and the artist's largest work of that era, will likely to serve as the conversation piece for the garden's social hours. Light but grounded, teetering but fastened, sailing but moored, the work demands a stroll around to admire its poetic tensions. The museum's own Odalisque (1984) is baroque in comparison, with a name and elements signifying something weighted, even enslaved. The vertical Blazon (1987-90) expresses architectural elements such as portal and arch, and as such, demands conversation with similar and divergent elements in the New York skyline. Approximate to After Summer, the recent End Up (2010), a box-like work of rusted steel, cast iron and wood, seems a sturdy puzzle, a meditation on depth and infinity, recently washed ashore. Neither large nor lofty, the sculptures lend themselves to humanistic analogies. During his remarks at the preview on Monday, Caro said that he's "very keen about human scale."

Anthony Caro, Met Roof Garden
Anthony Caro at a preview at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 25, 2011.

New York will see more of Caro in the future. He's working on a large horizontal work for Park Avenue, one designed with considerations for vehicular viewing at 30 mph. In his parting remarks, he complemented New Yorkers on what he called our "uncanny grasp of art." He ended his remarks on the Met Roof garden with a firm directive. "New York is special," he said. "So, take care of it."

________
Anthony Caro on the Roof
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden
Through October 30, 2011 (weather permitting)

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Monday, April 25, 2011. See many more images of the preview in this slideshow on Flickr WOTBA.

Comments

Anton Deque said…
Very nice article Teri, with the same excellent photography. Caro was amusing when describing a visit to London's Tate Modern (the one in the old power station next to Sam Wannamaker's Globe) to see David Smith's work. "'Oh, good' I thought, 'all these people have come to see David's wonderful work'. Then I discovered they were athere to ridethe big slides down from the roof!" [Over here in show biz and the arts there is a rule against using a title on theatre poster's and so on. Anthony Caro does for most occasions.]
Teri Tynes said…
Thanks, Anton. I'm glad my iPhone pictures came out well. Sometimes an overcast day helps with bringing out the colors.

I wasn't meaning to be a subversive colonist in my use of "Sir." Rather, I thought using the title was fitting to emphasize his distinguished place in the history of sculpture and his polite demeanor at the press preview.
Wonderful article and pictures as usual, Teri. And the subject is near and dear to my heart. I love the rooftop garden at the Metropolitan Museum! I was sorry that our recent visit was before the rooftop had opened for the season. And I think that Caro's idea that New Yorkers have an "uncanny grasp of art" is spot on.
Teri Tynes said…
Hi Terry, Thanks for that. And I hope you can return in the summer to visit the glories of the Met roof in the summertime. Along with the outdoor art and the view, there's also a roof café and a martini bar.

Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

At the New Moynihan Train Hall, and the Zen of Going Nowhere

After slowly wandering around the Moynihan Train Hall , opened earlier this year in the James A. Farley Post Office Building across from Penn Station, an Amtrak worker approached me and asked if he could help with directions. “No,” I replied, “I’m just here to look at the station.”  Moynihan Train Hall, between Eighth Avenue, Ninth Avenue, 31st Street, and 33rd Street in Midtown Manhattan I wasn’t taking a train anywhere, not an Amtrak train to Philadelphia or to Boston. I was here to look at this impressive, even enlightening building. The architectural design is somewhat restrained and serious. Bright signage at the Moynihan Train Hall At a time when the idea of actual travel is just picking up, for some New Yorkers like myself, just the novelty of seeing a new transportation project in the city seems to suffice. It’s like mental preparation for taking an actual trip.  Looking up I remember catching Amtrak trains at the old Penn Station, not the beautiful and monumental edifice that

25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village

A list of 25 things to Do in Greenwich Village with history of protest, old cafes, and signs of change. Hipstamatic iPhone images of contemporary Greenwich Village by Walking Off the Big Apple (Revised and updated.) Flipping through  Greenwich Village: A Photographic Guide by Edmund T. Delaney and Charles Lockwood with photographs by George Roos, a second, revised edition published in 1976, it’s easy to compare the black and white images with the look of today’s neighborhood and see how much the Village has changed. A long shot photograph of Washington Square taken up high from an apartment north of the park, and with the looming two towers of the World Trade Center off to the distant south in the background, reveals a different landscape than what we would encounter today.    On the north side of the park, an empty lot and two small buildings have since given way to NYU’s Kimmel Center and a new NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Center Life. The Judson Memorial Church

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

A New York Spring Calendar: Blooming Times and Seasonal Events

See the UPDATED 2018 CALENDAR HERE . Updated for 2017 . At this time of year, thoughts turn to spring. Let's spring forward to blooming times, the best locations for witnessing spring's beginnings, and springtime events in the big city. While the occasional snow could blow through the city, we're just weeks now from callery pears in bloom and opening day at the ballpark. In The Ramble, Central Park. mid-April Blooming Times •  Central Park Conservancy's website  lists blooming times within the park. During the month of March we begin to see crocus, daffodils, forsythia, snowdrops, witch-hazel, and hellebores. Species tulips will emerge in several places, but the Shakespeare Garden and Conservatory Garden are particularly good places to catch the beginning of Spring blooms. Central Park near E. 72nd St., saucer magnolia, typically end of March. •  Citywide Blooming Calendar from New York City Department of Parks & Recreation April is u

North Towards Autumn: A Day Trip on the Metro-North Hudson Line

The peak of autumn colors in New York City tends to fall sometime in the days following Halloween, but those anxiously waiting leaf change can simply travel north.  Near Beacon, a view of autumn colors from the Metro-North Hudson line One way to speed the fall season is to take the Hudson line of Metro-North north of the city and watch the greens fade to oranges and yellows and the occasional burst of red.  Autumn light in Hastings-on-Hudson Weekends during the month of October are ideal times to make the trip. The air tends to be crisp with bright blue skies, and the Hudson River glimmers like a mirror in the light of autumn. As the Hudson line hugs the river for much of the distance north, the train ride alone provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. Try to grab a window seat on the river side of the train car for views of the Palisades and the bends of the Hudson Highlands later in the trip.   Autumn leaves on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Hastings Still, October is a gr

The High Line and Chelsea Market: A Good Pairing for a Walk

(revised 2017) The advent of spring, with its signs of growth and rebirth, is apparent both on the High Line , where volunteers are cutting away the old growth to reveal fresh blooms, and inside the Chelsea Market, where new tenants are revitalizing the space. A walk to take in both can become an exploration of bounty and surprise, a sensual walk of adventure and sustenance. A good pairing for a walk: The High Line and Chelsea Market Walking the High Line for a round trip from Gansevoort to W. 30th and then back again adds up to a healthy 2-mile walk. Regular walkers of the elevated park look for an excuse to go there. Especially delightful is showing off the park, a model of its kind, to visitors from out of town. A stroll through Chelsea Market. Time check. If you haven't stopped into Chelsea Market lately, you may want to take a detour from the High Line at the stairs on W. 16th St. and walk through the market for a quick assessment or a sampling. Among the sampli