Joe Tilson, born in London in 1928, was a painter, printmaker and sculptor. He worked as a carpenter and cabinet maker and served in the RAF for a number of years before studying at St. Martin’s School of Art from 1949 to 1952, followed by The Royal College of Art, where he received the Rome Prize, leading him to live in Italy in 1955. There he met his wife to be, Joselyn Morton, and they married in Venice. Best known as one of the founding figures of British Pop art, his underpinning interest in carpentry, materials and textures comes through in all his work.
During the 1950’s, Tilson began by experimenting with the rich textual qualities of paint and derived a lot of inspiration from his surroundings in Italy. He explored the boundary between figuration and abstraction and developed an aesthetic reminiscent of Frank Auerbach or Leon Kosoff’s work, both of whom he studied with at St. Martin’s. In the 1960’s his work took a dramatic shift, as he immersed himself in the hedonistic cultural consciousness of the era and began to produce a body of work that was engaged in the liberal political currents of the epoch. He employed his technical knowledge as a carpenter, combining his natural craftsmanship with bold forms and colours in large wood reliefs. He also became interested in the relationship between word and image and developed his skills in many different forms of printmaking.
Tilson has taught at St. Martin's School of Art, The Slade School of Art, University College London, King's College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; at the School of Visual Arts, New York; and at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg.
signed and dated 1956
Acquired directly from the artist in 1956, thence by descent to 2011
Private Collection London, 2011 - 2016
Tilson, whilst best known for his work in Pop Art, began a series of paintings in the 1950s depicting different areas of Tuscany, where he lived for several months of each year. These works are, therefore, a rare exploration of a more abstracted language and draw inspiration from other British artists, such as Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff. Thick impasto brushwork articulates the hills and heat of San Quirico d’Orcia, a small Medieval town in the Province of Siena, Tuscany.