Westminster council rejects gift of £2.5m Caro sculpture

The massive work is now for sale

LONDON. The Art Newspaper can reveal that a gift to London from the sculptor Sir Anthony Caro, has been rejected. Millbank Steps, his largest and most ambitious work to date, is therefore being sold, for £2.5m.

Caro’s sculpture was first shown at Tate Britain (on Millbank) in 2005, having been commissioned for its Duveen Galleries to mark the artist’s retrospective. Made of more than 100 tonnes of rusted steel, Millbank Steps stands five metres high and 23 metres

in length. Its four steeped

arches resemble ziggurats and the pyramidical spaces invite viewers to explore its interior. Construction cost around £100,000, and this was done free of charge by Bury engineers William Hare.

Following the show, Caro spoke with Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota, for advice

on placing Millbank Steps as a gift to the nation, ideally

for London. Although Tate itself would normally have leapt at the opportunity to acquire a Caro masterpiece, the sheer scale of Millbank Steps meant that it would only have been possible to display it very occasionally, and storage and re-assembly would have been expensive.

A gift to Tate was therefore not feasible, and the solution seemed to be a suitable outdoor location. “It has sufficient scale to stand outside, and I thought it would be nice to give it for a site in central London,” Caro told us.

Tate therefore suggest­ed approaching Westminster Coun­cil, and there were lengthy discussions about re-erecting Millbank Steps in Victoria Tower Gardens, adjacent to the House of Lords (and also on Millbank), where Rodin’s Burghers of Calais is on display. The council had been considering re-landscaping the garden, but this never happened, and in the end it proved impossible to place the Caro there.

Other sites were discussed, including close to Westminster Abbey and a location in South­wark near London’s City Hall.

Architect Sir Norman Foster was also consulted. He considered installing Millbank Steps in one of own his projects, including in the grounds of a skyscraper he is building in Russia, but none of the schemes worked out.

The sculpture has just been moved from Tate’s store and reassembled for the first time since the retrospective in the grounds of Roche Court, near Salisbury, where it goes on sale this month. New Art Centre director Alice Houghton hopes that it will be sold for “a major architectural project”.

Martin Bailey

o New Art Centre is 50 years old this

year, p48

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