Joe Tilson 1928 - 2023

Artists in wood reliefs and constructions, printmaker. Initially trained as a carpenter, he studied art at St Martin’s School of Art from 1949-52, and at the Royal College of Art between 1952-55, winning the Rome Prize in 1955. After graduating he travelled to Italy where he met his future wife, the artist Joslyn Morton, and together they shared a studio at Casa Frollo on the Giudecca in Venice, where they would marry a year later. Thus began a profound relationship with Italy, which has provided both an anchor and a creative focus for Tilson’s work, from early paintings to the recent brightly coloured Postcards from Venice (2014–15).

Between 1955 and 1957 Tilson worked in Italy and Spain, returning to London in 1958. During the 1960s Tilson 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 Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, R.B.Kitaj, Peter Blake, Allen Jones, Patrick Caulfield and David Hockney. 

His first one-man show was held at the Marlborough Gallery, London in 1962 and he remained with the gallery until 1970, moving to Waddington Galleries from 1971. His work has been shown widely abroad and retrospective exhibitions have included those at the Tate Gallery in 1978 and the Art Museum, Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, in 1987. His work is represented internationally. He has taught at St Martin’s School of Art, the University of Durham, the Slade School, in New York in 1966 and in Hamburg in 1971-2. His many awards include the Gold Medal at the San Marino Biennale in 1963, and the Grand Prix d’Honneur, Biennale de la Gravure, Ljubljana, in 1985. In the 1960s his work was influenced by Pop imagery, using technological processes, a range of media and making references to contemporary events. Later he turned to more universal themes through an interest in the elements and Greek mythology and his technique became more subjective, reflecting a greater involvement with his materials. His work reveals his interest in emblematic images, rituals and games and is clearly structured, often using words and language.... read more

Joe Tilson Paintings and Drawings

San Quirico d’Orcia I

Joe Tilson: San Quirico d’Orcia I, 1956