Long known for his abstract work, the great British sculptor Anthony Caro in recent years has been putting subtle references to the world around us, notably architecture, into his work. The current, not-to-be-missed show of Caro work at Grimaldis is called "Sculpture Towards Architecture" and explores that subject in two scales.
In the larger, more or less human-scale floor pieces, Caro deals with the enclosure of space, allowing the viewer to enter the works (visually, not literally) and imagine what it would be like to examine these spaces from the inside as well as the outside.
The smaller, tabletop works are, if anything, even more expansive and ambitious; for while a floor piece such as "Plain Chocolate" may suggest an entire building or even a building complex, the smaller ones imply archaeological excavations of entire urban landscapes. They look like the foundations of town plans.
But these do not appear to be modeled on existing archaeological sites or even existing towns. Rather, they suggest an archaeology of the future. And in so doing, they argue for the disposition of buildings, open spaces and other areas in cities in such a way that the discipline of logic can blend with the freedom of imagination to produce a milieu for living in accord with humane ideals.
"Inset Court," for instance, suggests the bottoms of several irregularly shaped tall buildings close to a small lake crossed by a bridge. To one side is a large plaza.
In "Letter of Introduction," the base of a round skyscraper shares an open, irregular plaza, or perhaps park space, with a round indentation, again suggesting a body of water. Abutting this space are rectangles, one incorporating a snakelike shape. This may be a suggestion for a novel building type that would provide visual variety from the exterior, a variety of views from the interior, and a touch of intended humor to leaven daily life.
"In Court" may suggest an uncovered space surrounded by buildings. But it also suggests a giant engine under the space, perhaps arguing for replacement of all the disparate bits of machinery that run the city with something more consolidated. "Kyoto Court" could be the plan for a series of interlocked, round living spaces, facing a park or plaza that would be the removable roof of a giant pool.
There are, of course, other interpretations. And they are also purely abstract sculptures that need no referential interpretation to validate them. Caro's creativity is so fertile and so open it cannot fail to produce works that exist on multiple levels.
The exhibit is accompanied by a handsome catalog with an essay and photographs of all works on view.
What: "Anthony Caro: Sculpture Towards Architecture"
Where: The C. Grimaldis Gallery, 523 N. Charles St.
When: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; through Oct. 29
Call: (410) 539-1080