The sculptures have been temporarily allocated to the Tate, pending a decision on their permanent allocation.
The two works, Lock from 1962 and The Window (1966-67), are considered two of Caro’s most important pieces and their values reflect both the fact that they were produced during arguably his innovative period and also the general rise in prices for the best Modern British sculptures in the last decade.
The artist’s auction record stands at £1.25m for Sculpture Two from 1962 which sold at Sotheby’s back in February 2006.
Lock was made in the same year as Caro’s best known sculpture Early One Morning – a work that established the young sculptor as one of the leading names in the field and which is also now in the Tate. An example of his trademark use of industrial and architectural materials, it sits upon concealed blocks therefore appearing to float above the gallery floor.
The Window was part of a small group of sculptures that use mesh panels as well as sections and sheets of steel, and was constructed in a way to encourage the viewer to explore the interior as well as the exterior of the sculpture (one of Caro’s main interests at the time was the similarities between sculpture and architecture).
Chairman of the Acceptance in Lieu panel Edward Harley said: “These important sculptures by Sir Anthony Caro are central to the history of modernist sculpture in Britain. They demonstrate the pace and significance of sculptural innovation in London during the 1960s and they represent key moments in Caro’s own artistic development. ”
Following the acquisition which was announced this month, The Window was chosen by contemporary sculptor Rachel Whiteread as one the works to feature in a display in Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries which runs parallel to her own exhibition currently on show at the gallery.