John Piper (1903-1992) was a major contributor to the artistic and cultural landscape of twentieth century Britain. Through landscape paintings and collages, photographs, abstracts, theatre designs and relief constructions, Piper expressed a sensitivity to the physical characteristics and atmosphere of his native land. In particular, the artist was drawn to English churches and monuments. In this, the first major exhibition of John Piper’s work since 2003, is presented a selection of works starting with the artist’s idyllic images of rural Britain in the late 1920s and 1930s through to the depictions of bombed-out churches made during World War Two as Official War Artist, as well as his romantic landscape paintings which were a preoccupation after the 1940s.
On 15 November 1940, the day after the Coventry Blitz, Piper visited Coventry and made a series of drawings of the ravaged city, in particular of the cathedral and other gutted churches. He returned to the city in the 1950s when Basil Spence commissioned the artist, with Patrick Reyntiens, to design a huge stained glass window for the city’s new cathedral, which was consecrated in 1962. In 1962 also, construction began on Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, for which Piper and Reyntiens again designed the stained glass centrepiece. 2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Liverpool Cathedral’s completion and this exhibition, presented in both Liverpool and Coventry, makes direct reference to Piper’s significant contribution to both cities.
Organised by the Mead Gallery in association with Tate Liverpool