Joe Tilson (1928 – Present) was born on 24th August, 1928 in London, England. Tilson served in the Royal Air Force from 1946 – 49, after which he studied at St Martin’s School of Art (1949-1952) and the Royal College of Art (1952 – 1955). He won the Rome Prize for graduation, taking him to Italy from 1955 - 1957. From 1958 – 1963, Tilson taught at St Martin’s School of Art, the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London and the School of Visual Arts, New York.
During the 1960s, Tilson’s artistic career took off as he attracted attention for his unique wooden reliefs and constructions, prints and paintings in the emerging British Pop Art style. He held his first solo exhibition at the Marlborough Galley, London in 1962. In 1977, Tilson joined the Waddington Galleries, exhibited at the Alan Cristea Gallery and the Giò Marconi Galleries in Milan. At the Venice Biennale in 1964, Tilson’s work began to gain international popularity, earning him a retrospective at the Boyman’s Museum, Rotterdam later that year.
Growing anti-consumerist feeling in the 1970s pushed Tilson to begin to incorporate a wider variety of materials in his work, including stone, straw and rope to create a timeless feel to his work. This body of work was called Alchera, and was a huge success. Tilson was made a Royal Academician in 2002 which was celebrated with a retrospective exhibition in the same year at the Royal Academy entitled Joe Tilson: Pop to Present.
Tilson is collected internationally, including at the Arts Council England, London; the British Library, London; Christchurch College, Oxford; the Ludwig Múzeum, Budapest; the Tate, London; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; The Royal Collection; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York and the Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven