Tristram Hillier

Pylons (1933)

About this artwork

'Pylons' was exhibited at the first and only exhibition of the modernist 'Unit One' group in London in 1934, where it aroused much interest. It was purchased from the exhibition by Elizabeth Watt, who bequeathed it to the Gallery more than fifty years later. In this painting the three tall pylons carry no wires and their location on the beach is deliberately enigmatic. The attention to detail and relocation of objects from their usual surroundings draw parallels with the work of Dalí and Tanguy. However, unlike those artists, Hillier does not use unlikely objects and improbable landscapes.

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  • title: Pylons
  • accession number: GMA 3488
  • artist: Tristram HillierEnglish (1905 - 1983)
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • materials: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1933
  • measurements: 92.00 x 60.30 cm (framed: 103.70 x 71.70 x 9.30 cm)
  • credit line: Bequeathed by Miss Elizabeth Watt 1989
  • copyright: © The Estate of Tristram Hillier. All Rights Reserved 2016/ Bridgeman Images
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Tristram Hillier

Tristram Hillier

Hillier was born in China but his family moved to England soon after his birth. He studied at Cambridge University for two years and was subsequently apprenticed to a firm of chartered accountants. However this career was quickly abandoned, when he decided to study at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1926. Until 1940 Hillier spent a great deal of time in France but retained strong links with London. In 1933 he joined the modernist group, 'Unit One'. Hillier developed his distinctive style in the mid-1930s, combining a precise style of painting with a sense of stillness evoking the strangeness of Surrealism.