Artist Profile

Douglas MacDiarmid

Born 1922

Born in New Zealand in 1922 expatriate artist Douglas MacDiarmid has been vitally involved with key movements in twentieth-century art. Educated at the Canterbury University in Christchurch, he has been based in Paris since the late 1940s. During this period the French School was internationally pre-eminent.

Associated early in his career with the avant-garde Christchurch 'Group' his sense of colour may be attributed to the teachings of Evelyn Page and MacDiarmid's admiration for Matisse. MacDiarmid art is held in public collections throughout New Zealand including the Alexander Turnbull Library, BNZ Collection, Hocken Library, Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Victoria University and Te Papa Tongarewa: Museum of New Zealand. He has been exhibiting in New Zealand since his 1950 show at the Helen Hitchings Gallery in Wellington and in 1968, the QEII Arts Council held a Retrospective Show of his work in that city. His art has also been exhibited in Paris, Athens, Casablanca and London. In 2002 he was the subject of a biography written by a French Art Historian.

Refusing to be swept up by any particular French movements, his work of the 1950s and 1960s has been described by his biographer Nelly Finet as "nourished by a certain expressionism which his classical formation kept within reasonable limits." MacDiarmid's painterly awareness was inspired by events as various as viewing the work of El Greco in Spain and in Italy, the paintings of Giotto and reading the following line from a book by Bertrand Russell: 'The world is composed, not of objects, but events.'

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