Stuart Sutcliffe art work returns to Liverpool

A major exhibition of Stuart Sutcliffe’s art work will be shown at the University of Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery and Museum to celebrate International Beatles Week.

This will be the first major retrospective exhibition of Sutcliffe’s work in Liverpool for more than 40 years and will chart his artistic career from his school days until his death in the 1960s.  The work will also be the first ‘special exhibition’ to open at the Victoria Gallery and Museum (VG&M), following its launch by HRH The Princess Royal. 

Stuart Sutcliffe’s art career began at Liverpool School of Art where he met musician, John Lennon, in 1957.  He was persuaded by Lennon to buy a bass guitar after the sale of one of his paintings to John Moores – the patron of the Bi-Annual Exhibitions held at the Walker Art Gallery. Lennon and Sutcliffe formed a band, initially named Johnny and the Moon Dogs and later The Silver Beatles, until they both decided to rename the group The Beatles.  Sutcliffe later left the band to continue his studies at the Hamburg State School of Art.

The exhibition includes 40 paintings from the Stuart Sutcliffe estate in the US, which charts the development of his style from his time at Prescott Grammar School, Liverpool Regional College of Art and the Hamburg State School of Art.  Sutcliffe’s work explores a form of Abstract Expressionism, an American post-World War Two movement that emphasised ‘spontaneity’ and ‘emotional intensity.’

Matthew Clough, Director of the University’s Art and Heritage Collections, said: “Sutcliffe is recognised world-wide as the ‘fifth Beatle’, but this exhibition will illustrate that he was an artist first and a musician second.  Sutcliffe sadly died from a brain haemorrhage at the age of 21, but for someone who died so young, he produced a profound body of work that charts a very full and successful life.” 

The VG&M was opened to the public on the 30 June this year, following an £8.6 million restoration of the Victoria Building funded by the institution with philanthropic support.  Established in 1892, the Victoria Building inspired the term ‘redbrick university’ which became synonymous with the late 19th Century civic universities. It is now the new home for art and heritage collections acquired by the University throughout its 100-year history.

Stuart Sutcliffe Retrospective’ will open to the public from 21 August 2008 to 31 January 2009. 

Admission to all galleries and exhibitions at the VGM is free and the building is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm. The Waterhouse Café is also open during these times.

Media are invited to view the exhibition and speak to the art curators on Thursday, 21 August between 9.30am and 2.00pm. Please contact Samantha Martin on the number below if you plan to attend.

Notes to editors:

“¢ Families and adult visitors are invited to join local artists to learn how to produce Sutcliffe-inspired art work.  The workshops are free, but booking is required.  Visit the VG&M website for further information:

“¢ The last retrospective exhibition of Stuart Sutcliffe’s art work was at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery in 1964, two years after his death.

“¢ The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive institutions in the UK. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £108 million annually.

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