Douglas Kerr MacDiarmid

Date of birth
Date of death
26 Aug 2020
Place of death
Douglas MacDiarmid was born in Taihape, in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand, the younger son of Dr Gordon Napier MacDiarmid, country general medical practitioner and surgeon, and his wife Mary Frances (née Tolme), a school teacher before her marriage. He was educated at Timaru Boys' High School, and studied literature, languages, music and philosophy at Canterbury College, University of New Zealand, Christchurch. His studies were interrupted by World War 2 military service in the Army and Air Force at home. Although he had no formal art training, he was mentored by older members of The Group, an avant-garde set redefining New Zealand art and culture that he was closely involved with during his Christchurch years from 1940 to 1946.

While his brother Ronald Diarmid MacDiarmid followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a doctor, Douglas left New Zealand after the war in 1946 to find his way as an artist, teaching and painting in London and France. After a year back in New Zealand in 1949-50, he returned to France and has been based there ever since – with homeland exhibitions and regular trips back to New Zealand until recent years.

MacDiarmid has been a full time artist in Paris since 1952 and has continued to paint into his 10th decade. He also writes poetry. Not confined to a style, he creates landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, figures, abstract and semi abstract forms, many inspired by his extensive travels, and has exhibited successfully in France, London, Athens, New York, and Casablanca.

In 1990, he was brought back to New Zealand for the country’s sesquicentennial celebrations, and declared a New Zealand living cultural treasure by the government of the day. His portrait was painted by Jacqueline Fahey at the time for the new New Zealand Portrait Gallery.[2]

His paintings are owned by French and New Zealand governments, the City of Paris, and public and private collections across the world, including New Zealand, Australia, the United States, France, England, Greece, Switzerland, Morocco, South Africa, China, South America, Korea, Tahiti, as well as the collection of the late Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Douglas is a cousin of the late New Zealand chemist Alan MacDiarmid, one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2000.
Douglas MacDiarmid passed away on 26 August 2020 in Paris, France at the age. of 97.
[Source: 2016 weblink]


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