'If the table of earlier Table Pieces was designed for examination and study, the surfaces of these later, intimate works becomes, in effect, a writing table itself' - H.F. Westley Smith
Writing Piece “Also”, 1978, belongs to Caro’s Writing Piece series, which he explored in the late 1970s, developing from the Table Pieces that he had begun in 1966. Here he continues to investigate the relationship between table and sculpture, abandoning the plinth, in favour of a body of smaller, more intimate works, which emphasised the plane of the ground. This sense of intimacy was important to Caro who encouraged a relationship between his work and the spectator. These smaller works offered Caro the opportunity to work instinctively and without the aid of his studio assistants. Constructed from an amalgamation of found tools and industrial parts, which he bent and welded together, Caro’s Writing Piece series explores the relationship between line and space, investigating the balance and tension of forms, juxtaposing texture and colour, to highlight surface and detail. Innately experimental and uniquely expressive, these works can be seen to be inspired, in part, by the work of his older contemporary David Smith, who he first met whilst visiting New York in 1959. It was Smith who inspired Caro to weld and use discarded metal objects.
In Writing Piece “Also” Caro deploys an elongated, horizontal form contrasting rusted and blackened metal, which he furls into organic curves and geometric shapes. Although highly abstract in form there is a suggestion of functionality and action, indicated not only in their titles, but also in the inclusion of a handle in many of the pieces, such as Writing Piece “Thus”, 1978 (Private Collection, Germany). Hester Westley Smith associates this functionality with the act of writing, finding a sense of the calligraphic in the curvature of forms, as well as identifying the writing implement itself in these works. He argues, ‘Like so many of Caro’s other series, the Writing Series extend beyond the very boundaries or limits initially established for them. Beginning as yet another way of exploring the horizontal alignment of the table, they become radical engagements with the idea of mark-making and signification’ (H.F. Westley Smith, Anthony Caro Small Sculptures, Farnham, 2010, p. 23). He believes that these works speak of communication, successfully articulating the indescribable: the act of writing itself. He concludes, ‘If the table of earlier Table Pieces was designed for examination and study, the surfaces of these later, intimate works becomes, in effect, a writing table itself ’ (ibid., p. 22).