John Moores Prizewinners 1957 - 2006
An ongoing display, showing a selection of previous prizewinners' work.
The paintings on show are, with two exceptions, from the Walker Art Gallery's permanent collection. They were all main prizewinners in the John Moores Liverpool exhibitions, held approximately every two years at the Gallery since 1957.
The exhibition, which was one of Britain's first contemporary art prizes, was initiated by Sir John Moores (1896-1993), founder of Littlewoods. His aims were:
'To give Merseyside the chance to see an exhibition of painting and sculpture embracing the best and most vital work being done today throughout the country'
'To encourage contemporary artists, particularly the young and progressive'
The John Moores, open to artists working in the UK, has always been an open submission competition with prize money - a total of £458,350 has been awarded since 1957. Until 1967 'distinguished' artists were invited to submit work, some also being eligible for prizes. Those invited included Oskar Kokoschka, LS Lowry, Francis Bacon and Barbara Hepworth.
The exhibited works and prizewinners are selected by a different jury each year. The exhibition has consistently helped to raise the profile of the artists and in particular to further the careers of its winners, including Jack Smith, Peter Blake, David Hockney and Peter Doig.
For the Walker Art Gallery it has created the backbone of its collection of contemporary British painting, reflecting some of the major trends over the past 50 years, including Kitchen Sink realism, abstraction, pop art and figuration.
Since 1999 the exhibition has been one of the four main strands of the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art. This display of prizewinning works was organised to accompany the 2008 John Moores 25 contemporary painting prize and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the John Moores exhibition in 2008.
A gallery talk by Ann Bukantas on the history of the John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize and some of its winning artists and artworks is available. Listen here.