7 FEBRUARY 1969, Page 30

Caro and the passionate object

Sir: Mr Bryan Robertson's dithyrambic disser- tation on Caro's sculpture (24 January) is a. flawless essay on idolatry but what it has to do. With the aims and objects of sculpture is hard to discern. Sifting the verbiage one is left with two positive statements, one stating an hypo- thesis as a fact, and one that is demonstrably untrue.

Cards bits and pieces of iron and mesh are said to 'maintain a dialogue with each other'; this, if it means anything, is either an elliptical way of saying that there is tension and the stress of opposites in his work—which is certainly no new principle—or else the merest jargon.

Then, after cutting away the cultural roots of Caro's vision, he blandly asserts that Caro is an old-fashioned 'expressionist.' The proposition just does not stand up. Expressionism sought to emphasise, sometimes no doubt, over-emphasise, an idea or an emotion. What idea or emotion is Caro trying to convey?

Mr Robertson only states that he has 'elimi- nated nostalgia': if that means he has deliber- ately abandoned all sculptural tradition, from Easter Island to Bernini and after, it may be true, but that is his, and our, loss. The only re- sult, as far as one can judge from the article, is 'a wilful impoverishment'; a sentiment with which one can heartily concur.

Mr Robertson concedes that Caro is only 'in- termittently imaginative' and one feels that Caro adds colour to his works only when his spatial intuition fails him. Certainly, the old, 'anti- quaire,' Brancusi, never, as far as I know, ob- scured or sought to enhance his pure forms with daubs of paint.

It will be interesting to see what Caro pro- duces when he removes what Mr Robertson calls the 'grimly effortful and probably irrelev- ant connotations' from his works of 'question- able complexity.'