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IIIF Actions
Joe Tilson, 1928–2023
Zikkurat 4, Spectrum
Materials & Techniques:
Oil and acrylic on wood relief
85 3/4 x 85 3/4 x 5 1/4 inches (217.8 x 217.8 x 13.3 cm)

signed, inscribed and dated: ' "ZIKKURAT 4 SPECTRUM" 1967 / OIL AND ACRYLIC ON WOOD RELIEF. / Joe Tilson. 1967' (on a label attached to the reverse).

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
© Estate of the Artist
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
abstract art | colors | labyrinth | meteorology | pyramid (tomb) | rainbow | science | spectrum | ziggurat
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

A major figure in the evolution of British pop art, Joe Tilson began to make reliefs in wood in the late 1950s, deploying the carpentry skills he had learned as a teenager to create brightly colored constructions reminiscent of children’s toys, which straddle the line between painting and sculpture. In 1963 he embarked on a series of works inspired by the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian stepped pyramidal type called a ziggurat, also known as a zikkurat, that explore the relationships between images and their linguistic equivalents. This relief references both the geometry and the massive scale of ancient architecture and modern scientific knowledge, as represented by the colors of the spectrum, and constitutes an early foray into the more spiritual and mystical forms of art that he would embrace in the early 1970s.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Revisiting Traditions [BAC 20th century painting & sculpture] (Yale Center for British Art, 2002-04-30 - 2005-05-18) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

20th Century Paintings and Sculpture (Yale Center for British Art, 2000-01-27 - 2000-04-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Matthew Hargraves, "Yale Center for British Art joins Art UK", ArtUK, 24 June 2019, Available online https://artuk.org/discover/stories/yale-center-for-british-art-joins-art-uk [Website]

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