Joe Tilson British 1928–
Joe Tilson, English painter,sculptor and print maker. After serving in the Royal Air Force (1946–9), he studied in London at St Martin’s School of Art (1949–52) and the Royal College of Art (1952–5). He won the coveted Rome Prize, which took him to Italy to further his studies for a year.
Joe Tilson returned to London in 1957, and from 1958 to 1963 he taught at St Martin’s School of Art,and subsequently taught at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London and The School of Visual Arts, New York and the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste, Hamburg.
In the late 1950s he began to produce reliefs in wood, making use of his carpentry skills. In 1961 he exhibited at the Paris Biennale. He responded quickly to the emergence of Pop Art and became one of the leading figures associated with the British Pop Art movement. Making use of his previous experience as a carpenter and joiner, Tilson produced wooden reliefs and constructions as well as prints and paintings.As a student at the RCA Tilson associated with artsists such as Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, Allen Jones, Patrick Caulfied, Peter Blake, Kitaj.
His first one-man show was held at the Marlborough Art gallery London in 1962 In 1977 he joined the Waddington Galleries and also exhibited at the Alan Cristea Gallery and the Giò Marconi Galleries in Milan. Tilson’s work gained an international reputation when shown at the XXXII Venice Biennale in 1964,which led to a retrospective at the Boyman’s Museum, Rotterdam in 1964. Further retrospective exhibitions followed at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1979 and the Arnolfini Gallery , Bristol in 1984
In 1972 Tilson began deliberately to project his adoption of a simpler rural existence. He moved to Wiltshire and began to use wider variety of materials, including stone, straw and rope. He became interested in the symbolism of the four elements and in natural cycles. This body of work was called Alchera.
His work has been exhibited regularly in solo shows throughout the world: Cortona Centro Culturale Fontanella Borghese, Rome (1990), Plymouth City Museum (1991), Palazzo Pubblico, Siena (1995), Mestna Gallery, Ljubljana (1996) and Galleria Comunale d’Arte, Cesena (2000). A major retrospective was held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2002). Among Tilson’s awards are the Gulbenkian Foundation Prize (1960) and the Grand Prix d’Honneur, Biennale of Ljubljana (1996). He is a Royal Academician and his career was celebrated with a retrospective exhibition in 2002 at the Royal Academy ‘Joe Tilson: Pop to Present’ (Sackler Galleries) from April 2002. Invited to paint the banner for the “Palio”, Siena in 1996
He is represented by Marlborough Fine Art, London and Alan Cristea Gallery, London.
Joe Tilson lives and works in London and Italy.