Tristram Hillier RA (1905–1983)
Until 25 June 2008
In the Sir Hugh Casson Room for Friends of the Royal Academy
Tristram Hillier RA, Alcañiz, 1961. Oil on canvas, 70 x 80 cm.
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest, 1962. Tate Britain
In the art of Tristram Hillier RA, 20th century English Surrealism is seen at its elegantly restrained best. This exhibition, which covers a wide range of work from the 1920s to the early 1980s, provides a rare opportunity to see examples of Hillier’s paintings and preliminary drawings.
The exhibition coincides with the publication of Painter Pilgrim - The Art and Life of Tristram Hillier by Jenny Pery, the first biography of the artist. This extensively illustrated volume reproduces many of his most important works and re-establishes Hillier as one of the most significant English painters of his time.
Born in Beijing in 1905, Hillier was educated at Downside School, where he first professed an interest in drawing. The disciplines and iconography of the Catholic faith, instilled in him during those early years, were to have a major influence on his work. The Slade School of Art sharpened Hillier’s natural ability as a draughtsman, and throughout his life he maintained a rigorous approach to drawing. Hillier moved to France in the late 1920s, where he immersed himself in the Paris art scene, becoming close friends with Georges Braque, Max Ernst and André Masson.
Membership of Paul Nash’s Unit One Group brought Hillier into contact with the English Surrealists, particularly Edward Wadsworth, with whom he drew and painted around the coast of Normandy. His close links with the Surrealist Movement both in this country and abroad, as well as his deep admiration for the early Italian and Flemish masters, were to ‘set’ Hillier’s artistic direction. After the war he settled with his family in Somerset, where he worked in artistic isolation until his death in 1983. Hillier’s classical, timeless images, full of steely light and ominous shadows, have a unique place in the history of modern art. Hillier was elected as a painter RA in April 1957 and became senior RA in 1981.
Hillier's classical, timeless images, full of steely light and ominous shadows, have a unique place in the history of modern art.
Open to the public daily
4–6pm, Fridays until 10pm
Painter Pilgrim – The Art and Life of Tristram Hillier RA is available in the RA Shop.
Some drawings in the exhibition are available for sale. Please call 020 7300 5741 or ask at the Friends Desk.