MoMA Audio: Collection, 2008
Anthony Caro (archival audio recording): People have asked me to describe what my sculpture is about and I keep on saying its like music. What I think I mean by that is that Im trying to take out the whole business of it being pieces of steel that are used in engineering, pieces of steel that are used in architecture. I just happen to use those materials instead of using notes.
Curator Emeritus, John Elderfield: So this is Caro speaking fifteen years after having made Midday. What's hard to I think now grasp is how radical and how astonishing this work was in 1960. It is, as he says, about arranging pieces of steel in an abstract way, like notes. One can imagine a piece of sheet music, with notes arranged upon a line and also the gaps between these notes. Caro is making sculpture which in one sense is pictorial. Were being asked to read across it, like reading across a picture.
But a sculpture, unlike a painting, can and does present more than one picture to the viewer. Traditionally, it's possible to walk around the sculpture and sort of predict what the other side is going to be like. In the case of a sculpture like this, there doesn't seem to be, lets say, any inside. It's all outside. Its all a matter of surfaces and everything is very clearly presented to the viewer.
The other thing which seemed very surprising about Caro's sculptures when they first appeared was that they were painted. And it's interesting that the title of it has some connotations of landscapemidday, you knowand the bright yellow sunlight. Beyond that, I think that the absolute abstractness is the thing that we are aware of.
He said that he made this sculpture in a one-car garage and therefore he really never had any distance on it. He was never actually looking at it as a whole image. So in fact the decisions he was making were all part-to-part decisions. It was the relationship from one piece of metal to the other piece of metal.
Anthony Caro: So when I put them out into the courtyard, I sometimes got a nice or bad surprise, because it wasn't something I knew about, but some sort of discovery.