John Walker was born in Birmingham, England, in 1939. He trained at Birmingham College of Art in 1956-60, in his final year winning the Arts Council Drawing Prize.
In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Walker had numerous solo exhibitions in cities including London, Paris, New York, Amsterdam, and Hamburg. He was in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1972, and in 1985 there was a retrospective of his paintings at the Hayward Gallery, London, and a retrospective of his prints at the Tate Gallery, London. Most recently, he has been Professor of Painting at Boston University, a post he took over from Phillip Guston.
In 1968 he painted "Lesson", acrylic on canvas (6.1 x 2.6 m), which is now in the Tate permanent collection. This is clearly the basis of the Headingley screen prints he made the following year. This series also hint at his later 1970's paintings which were notable for the "canvas collage' technique: here the artist applied glued-on, separately painted patches of canvas to the main canvas.
The Headingley Suite of 5 lithographs, after "Lesson", are available separately or as a set of five (with the same number in the edition for each print). They show similar abstract shape, with changing elements and colours. A complete set of these is in the British Council Collection.
John Walker was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1985 (alongside Terry Atkinson, Tony Cragg, Ian Hamilton Finlay,Howard Hodgkin [W]). He was shortlisted primarily for works in which he explored ways to make images that were not representational but which somehow conveyed the drama of painting.
His work is in numerous public collections worldwide including British Museum, the Australian National Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Fogg Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Gallery of Art, the Phillips Collection, Yale Center for British Art, the Scottish National Gallery, the Tate Gallery, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship; first prize, John Moores Exhibition in Liverpool, England; first prize, Bradford International Print Biennale in Yorkshire, England; and the Harkness Fellowship, New York.