Born in London in 1928, Joe Tilson worked as a cabinet maker before serving in the RAF between 1946-1949. After leaving the military, he returned to London where he studied at Saint Martin's School of Art and the Royal College of Art, where he met Leon Kosoff, Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake, Allen Jones, Patrick Caulfield and David Hockney. In 1955, Tilson was awarded a prize which took him to live in Italy for a year, a country which he has drawn inspiration from ever since.


One of the founding figures of British Pop Art, Tilson constantly pushed the boundaries of print-making, seeking to widen the scope and impact of contemporary art. However, as an enthusiastic proponent of political activism, sexual liberation and social change, by 1970 Tilson had become disillusioned with the consumer society that Pop Art highlighted. He moved from London to the countryside, where his subject matter changed radically as he turned towards history for inspiration.


Tilson was elected a Royal Academician in 2001 and became a Senior Academician in 2003.


Tilson has exhibited globally since the 1960s and his work is included in both public and private collections worldwide. 


Public Collections

Tate, London

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

The Calouste Gulbenklan Foundation, Lisbon

Galleria Nazionale d Arte Moderna, Rome

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Museum of Modern Art, New York