Joe Tilson was born in London in 1928. From 1944 to 1946 he worked as a carpenter and structure builder, jobs which allowed him to master all the techniques for working wood, metal and paper.
He studied at St Martin’s School of Art and from 1952 to 1955 at the Royal College of Art, school of that great generation of artists which include R.B. Kitaj, Peter Blake, Allen Jones, David Hockney, Richard Smith and Richard Hamilton.
He travelled to Italy and stayed for long periods in Rome and Venice, especially between 1955 and 1957. He also visited Spain.
Back in London, he taught at St Martin’s School of Art and abroad, in New York and Hamburg.
In 1962 he had his first personal show at the Marlborough Gallery in London (he would continue to exhibit at the Marlborough’s Rome and New York galleries until 1977). He also took part in the 32nd Venice Biennale and the Milan Triennale.
In 1964 he earned his first international recognition at the Venice Biennale. This was followed throughout the Seventies and Eighties by several shows in Rotterdam, Vancouver, Bristol and Milan.
In 1985 he was made a member of London’s Royal Academy of Arts.
For the past thirty years he has lived and worked mostly between London and Wiltshire (in his country house/studio), also spending many months of the year in his house in the hills outside Cortona in Tuscany.