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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

© Barford Sculptures Ltd
British, 1924 - 2013
The Achaians—Xanthos
from the series "Trojan War"
Stoneware and steel

69 1/4 x 26 x 15 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the
Mary Kathryn Lynch Kurtz Charitable Lead Trust

Arts of Europe

In the mid-1980s, Sir Anthony Caro contemplated making a kind of war and peace sculpture. The result was his Trojan War series, an installation comprising nearly 40 individual sculptures that depict the story from Homer's Iliad. One of the components—The Achaians-Xanthos—bears all the hallmarks of Caro's best sculpture: linear steel elements; earthy, primitive forms; and a poetic power of composition.

Many of the individual works in Trojan War, including The Achaians-Xanthos, feature ceramic elements. The Achaians were people who lived in ancient Greece. Xanthos depicts one of the two immortal horses that drew the chariot of Greek hero Achilles in the story.

Caro is considered one of the most influential figures in post-World War II British art. Early in his career, he worked as an assistant to artist Henry Moore and made figural sculpture. After meeting sculptor David Smith during a 1959 visit to the United States, Caro began to construct abstract metal sculpture using industrial parts.
In 1975, Caro was one of the painters and sculptors who worked in the "New Works in Clay" project at Syracuse University. Although not trained as a ceramist, he had worked with ceramics before, and clay has played an important role in Caro's career ever since.