Artist: Anthony Caro (British, New Malden, Surrey 1924–2013 London)
Dimensions: 77 x 100 x 65 in. (195.6 x 254 x 165.1 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Stephen and Nan Swid, 1984
Accession Number: 1984.328a-d
In the early 1950s, British sculptor Anthony Caro created figurative bronzes that reflected his academic training and his assistantship with Henry Moore. During the mid- to late 1950s, Caro retained his interest in figurative subjects but after an initial meeting with three Americans-art critic Clement Greenberg, painter Kenneth Noland, and sculptor David Smith-he made a radical change to abstract welded metal constructions. Caro's sculptures of the 1960s were defined by their horizontal orientation, low placement (often below eye level), brightly painted surfaces, and open, negative spaces.
Odalisque represents the artist's shift, since the late 1970s, toward more concentrated, solid forms that emphasize volume and weight. It is composed of several massive pieces of rusted steel, some of which are maritime buoys and chains that have been cut apart and joined to abstract elements. There is an elegant dialogue between vertical and horizontal movements, curved and straight lines, and convex and concave forms. Unlike much of his earlier work, which has a single, frontal orientation, this piece has two distinctive views. From the front it is dominated by sharp straight edges and inverted forms, while from the back it is defined by large rounded shapes and arcs. The ample forms and voluptuous curves of this sculpture correspond to the image of a sensuous harem concubine suggested by the title.