Ch-ch-ch-Changes! My $240,000 sculpture has been 'mutilated', says Anthony Caro

British abstract sculptor Sir Anthony Caro has expressed his anger at the sale of a work of his - because it has been altered.  Caro is reportedly furious that the sculpture, to be sold by Bonhams today, March 9, has been advertised as one of his.

The sculptor contends that the piece, entitled 'Lagoon', has been changed to such a degree that it no longer represents his original artistic intention.  Describing the art work as "mutilated", Caro effectively disowned the piece, which is being sold on behalf of the Peterborough Sculpture Council.

At five metres tall, the varnished steel sculpture is quite an intimidating piece.  It was created in the late 1970s and consists of a series of flattened sections of steel joined together.  It was sold to the sculpture council in 1984, which Caro claims was done on the basis the sculpture would be preserved as a public work.

However, Lagoon was displayed outdoors for many years.  To facilitate this, metal legs were added; furthermore, its exposure to the outside world has seen it suffer from both weathering and vandalism, as graffiti artists added to Caro's original conception.


'Lagoon' by Caro
Lagoon has been changed too much, says Caro

Caro's ire has been aroused not only by the council's decision to sell the sculpture, but by Bonhams choice of marketing.  The claim that the piece is a Caro work is, according to Sir Anthony, "an infringement of his moral rights as an artist".

The addition of legs, the erosion and rust caused by the elements, and the unmovable remnants of its defacement render the sculpture a totally new art work, according to Caro. 

In response, Bonhams defended the sale claiming the sculpture was not substantially different from the original form and that the artistic integrity of the piece remained.

Whether Caro can stop or affect the sale is unclear; what is certain is that his protestations will inevitably draw the attention of art collectors and investors to the sale of 'Lagoon'.  It has a pre-auction estimate of £100,000-150,000 and with the addition of controversy, the work may prove too tempting to resist.


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