Sir Anthony Caro RA, Cascade Series 'Mouchoir'
Sir Anthony Caro RA, Cascade Series 'Mouchoir'

Cascade Series 'Mouchoir', 1990

Sir Anthony Caro RA (1924 - 2013)

RA Collection: Art

On free display in Dame Jillian Sackler Sculpture Gallery

Anthony Caro’s Mouchoir cascades over the edge of its plinth and twists down to the floor. The rusted and waxed steel has a fabric-like feel which may explain Caro’s chosen title ‘mouchoir’, which means handkerchief in French.

Mouchoir is from Caro’s Cascades series of sculptures made between 1989 and 1990. These sculptures were positioned on the table top but cascaded off the surface. They were rooted in Caro’s table top sculptures from the 1960s, which Tim Marlow explained “superficially returned sculpture to the plinth but effectively explored both the surface on which the pieces were now placed and the space below into which they fell, sometimes gently, often dynamically”. He goes on to describe, “twenty years later, Caro continued to develop the idea of the table pieces and began to produce larger and more substantial work which positively plummeted off the table top and on occasion, in pieces like Summer Table, even incorporated the flat, planar surface into the work itself. The resulting series was called, appropriately enough, the Cascades” (Tim Marlow 1993).

Mouchoir stands out amongst the Cascade sculptures as it drops entirely to the floor and reaches to the wall. “The most complex of all are Mouchoir and Clear Sight, in which the sculpture occupies the gallery wall, the top of the table, the table edge, the space in front and the floor, so that no aspect of the sculpture’s environmental context is taken for granted” (Johnson, 1991). In 2010 Westley Smith described Mouchoir as “the most arresting of the series”, as “the sculpture connects, across the table surface, the floor with the adjacent wall. It is as though these sculptures occupy a geometrical world entirely different from our own, as they disregard – even disdain – the right angles of the table (and even the rooms) that showcase them” (Westley Smith 2010, p.19).

Mouchoir is also notable as its form combines concave and convex structures. Ken Johnson wrote “certainly such works as Clear Sight, Mouchoir, Loose Change, Velour and Move Over in which convex and concave volumes are densely impacted, are profoundly infused with the spirit of Cubism” (Johnson 1991). Blume associates Mouchoir with the other Cascade sculpture Oboe: “the direction of the composition in these sculptures leads first a little upwards, turns suddenly, and falls in a sequence of beautifully curved concave and convex areas – like a waterfall – to the foot of the base” (Blume 1991, p.12).

Further Reading

Tim Marlow, Anthony Caro: The Cascades Sculptures, London: The British Council, 1993, p.9.

H.F. Westley Smith, Anthony Caro: small sculptures, Farnham: Lund Humphries, 2010, p.19.

Ken Johnson, Anthony Caro: The Cascades, Annely Juda Fine Art, London; Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, 1991.

Dieter Blume, Anthony Caro: Catalogue Raisonne IX, Koln: Galerie Wentzel, 1991, p.133, cat. 1972.

Object details

Cascade Series 'Mouchoir'
Sir Anthony Caro RA (1924 - 2013)
Object type
Copyright owner
Steel (rusted & waxed)

1395 mm x 1395 mm x 1115 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Sir Anthony Caro RA accepted 2005
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