We are deeply saddened by the recent news that artist Joe Tilson has passed away at the age of 95. Tilson was one of the most inventive printmakers and a key figure within the British Pop Art movement. Join us as we celebrate his life and works…
Born with an innate curiosity and a passion for pushing artistic boundaries, Tilson later went on to study at London’s Central Saint Martins where he drew on his training as a carpenter and a joiner, as he began creating early works rooted in realist traditions.
It was in the 1960s when Tilson came into his own, captivated by the British Pop Art movement that inspired him to produce daring and lively creations. He seamlessly integrated an array of textiles and materials into his works with his prints gaining distinction for their expansive dimensions. He brought a joyful riot of colour to the contemporary art scene in the 60s after early experiments with slyly, witty work inspired by American culture.
In 2019 we had the joy of visiting Joe Tilson’s exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery in London. His works celebrated the romantic city of Venice that he loved and knew so well, having visited for over 60 years. They were just as brightly coloured and expressive as ever, capturing bold geometric patterns of Venice’s stone flooring, archways or a favourite façade.
I have followed Tilson’s work for many years, admiring his love of mythology, ecology and symbolism. A number of his artworks punctuate the public spaces and bedrooms of our hotels. At The Whitby Hotel in New York, a 20-foot-tall canvas is visible from the street, backed by a Kate Blee wallpaper, arresting the attention of passers-by.
Another powerful work sits above the sofa in room 1502, also at The Whitby Hotel. The vibrant, burning reds and yellows capture your eye immediately upon entering the room.
You’ll also find this pair of Tilson works above an honesty bar in our Drawing Room at Ham Yard Hotel. These two screen-prints with woodblock are from the 1990s. The surface is so heavily inked that there are natural, colourless lines in the dark blue and red ink from its sheer weight on the paper.
Joe Tilson was a British icon and five years ago he celebrated his 90th birthday, marked by over 100 flags hanging down the length of Regent Street!
Thank you Joe for bringing so much joy and colour into our lives. You will be missed by many, but your legacy will not be forgotten.
Joe Tilson 1928 – 2023