Book Review: Art News New Zealand


Tremendous book reviews of ‘Colours of a Life: The life and times of Douglas MacDiarmid’ continue to appear in New Zealand publications now and then, including this recent appraisal in New Zealand’s largest art publication. Here is what the Spring 2018 edition of Art News New Zealand had to say about the biography:

“In his foreword, Leonard Bell points out that Douglas MacDiarmid is the longest-active New Zealand-born artist. ‘Douglas is one of the most technically and formally accomplished, imaginative, and intellectually and philosophically sophisticated artists from this country… Yet he has rated barely a mention in the standard histories of New Zealand art…’ This book fixes that.

“Written by the artist’s niece, it peels back the layers of life as an expat artist with direct access to his personal history, conversations, diaries and memories. Chapters cover his upbringing in small-town New Zealand, his artistic awakening, friendships (including plenty of familiar names in the art and literary scenes), relationships, travels, challenges and successes. Lively, energetic anecdotes, bristling with detail, provide intriguing insight into a full and colourful life. High-quality images reveal the talent and diversity of a sensitive hand.

“MacDiarmid, now in his 90s, certainly likes colour; New Zealand’s apparent fear of colour may explain, in part, why he’s been neglected in our art history. Also, he left New Zealand in the 1950s “to avoid suffocation” and there is quite a list of artists who elected to live overseas and were virtually forgotten as a result. There is renewed interest in some of those now, including MacDiarmid; this book is well timed. Hard back, 460 pages, 150 images, nicely produced, well researched and lovingly written – this is, ultimately, a tribute. “

Book review of Colours of a Life: The Life and Times of Douglas MacDiarmid, published in the Spring edition of Art News New Zealand (p.112).
Book review of Colours of a Life: The Life and Times of Douglas MacDiarmid, published in the Spring edition of Art News New Zealand (p.112).
Art News New Zealand Spring 2018
Art News New Zealand Spring 2018

Buy your copy of Colours of a Life – the life and times of Douglas MacDiarmid by Anna Cahill (2018) from us, or purchase it online or in person from all good bookstores and galleries across New Zealand. Published by Mary Egan Publishing (2018).

Order the Spring 2018 edition of Art News New Zealand.

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