Structure and criteria
'Peter Getting Out Of Nick's Pool' by David Hockney, winner in 1967
The John Moores exhibition's entry criteria, award structure and prize money have changed regularly over the years. Until 1965 (although not every year) as well as an Open painting section there were categories for sculpture, French and 'Junior' artists (originally up to 36 years old but lowered to 25 in 1963). From 1969 'sculptures, kinetics, watercolours and graphic arts' were firmly excluded in favour of painting. Each category had its own prize structure but every exhibition had an overall main prize, representing a significant achievement for the winner. Since 2002 the prize structure has been simplified to award fewer prizes but of higher value.
'Purchase prizes' were a particular feature until 2004.In their simplified form, in addition to the artist winning the prize money, the winning work(s) became the property of John Moores. On several occasions, but not always, these were then gifted by him to the Walker Art Gallery. The Gallery also made additional acquisitions from the exhibitions.
In 2004 the Purchase prize was abandoned in favour of the Gallery having the option to buy the prizewinning work, representing 'added value' to the artists, who receive the prize money plus the purchase price of their painting.
Since 1957, 19 winners of the main prize and 52 further works have been acquired for the Walker's collection.
The roll-call of past John Moores prizewinners reads like a 'who's who' of British painting over the past 50 years.