Publications about MacDiarmid and his paintings

New Zealand nonagenarian Douglas MacDiarmid and his paintings have featured in books and documentaries for years. His is a fascinating life, from his childhood in rural New Zealand in the 1920s to an adulthood full of adventure throughout Europe and beyond. MacDiarmid has lived in Paris for more than 60 years.

Here is a selection of our favourite works about Douglas as an artist and an observer of life.

Douglas MacDiarmid proudly holding his life in his hands at the age of 95. His only complaint is the weight of the book making it impossible to read in bed. Taken October 2018.

Colours of a Life – the life and times of Douglas MacDiarmid by Anna Cahill (2018)

A biography of the life and times of Douglas MacDiarmid over the past 10 decades, from his childhood in rural New Zealand in the 1920s, through his long and colourful painting career in France. The art, relationships, travel, and philosophies of a truly charismatic expatriate New Zealand painter.

Written by award-winning former journalist and MacDiarmid’s niece Anna Cahill.

Visit our shop to buy a copy of Colours of a Life.

MacDiarmid by Dr Nelly Finet (2002). An art history book available from

MacDiarmid by Dr Nelly Finet (2002)

An illustrated art book featuring 80 of Douglas MacDiarmid’s finest works from a career spanning more than 60 years, by French art historian Dr Nelly Finet. Published in both English and French to coincide with exhibitions in New Zealand and France for his 80th birthday.

Featuring Douglas’ iconic acrylic landscape of his childhood hometown of Taihape (1991) on the dust jacket, this hard copy edition is long out of print. However, while in Paris researching for the biography, Anna Cahill discovered a sealed box of these books in the basement of Douglas’ apartment.

Visit our shop to buy a copy of MacDiarmid.

A Stranger Everywhere – a film about Douglas MacDiarmid by Eric Grinda (2006)

A Stranger Everywhere by Eric Grinda (2006)

This film presents the clear vision of the artist Douglas MacDiarmid, whose choices and event places him at the right distance from any subject. He looks at key issues of life, accompanied by some of his work. Read more>>

Starring: Douglas MacDiarmid
Runtime: 52 minutes
Bloomsbury South The Arts in Christchurch 1933-1953 by Peter Simpson. Published by Auckland University Press, 2016

Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933 – 1953 by Peter Simpson (2017)

For two decades in Christchurch, New Zealand, a cast of extraordinary men and women remade the arts. Variously between 1933 and 1953, Christchurch was the home of Angus and Bensemann and McCahon, Curnow and Glover and Baxter, the Group, the Caxton Press and the Little Theatre, Landfall and Tomorrow, Ngaio Marsh, Douglas Lilburn and Douglas MacDiarmid. It was a city in which painters lived with writers, writers promoted musicians, in which the arts and artists from different forms were deeply intertwined. And it was a city where artists developed a powerful synthesis of European modernist influences and an assertive New Zealand nationalism that gave mid-century New Zealand cultural life its particular shape.

Available from Fishpond NZ

Back & Beyond: New Zealand Painting for the Young & Curious by Gregory O'Brien

Back and Beyond: New Zealand Painting for the Young and Curious by Gregory O’Brien (2008)

Since Māori first drew moa and mythical birds on cave walls, artists in Aotearoa New Zealand have provided an imaginative, lively account of the lives locals have been leading, the dreams they’ve been dreaming and the stories they’ve been telling. Alongside works painted during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Back and Beyond features art by contemporary painters and printmakers, all of them seasoned travellers across time and space, including Douglas MacDiarmid.

Winner of New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award: Non-Fiction Award 2009; shortlisted for Storylines Notable New Zealand Books: Non Fiction 2009 and LIANZA Children’s Book Awards: Elsie Locke Award 2009.

Available from Fishpond NZ

The Deepening Stream. A history of the New Zealand Literary Fund by Elizabeth Caffin and Andrew Mason (2016), featuring the work of Douglas MacDiarmid on the cover.

The Deepening Stream: A History of the New Zealand Literary Fund by Elizabeth Caffin and Andrew Mason (2016)

It set Elizabeth Smither dancing, it enabled Maurice Gee to become a full-time writer, it allowed Marilyn Duckworth to hire a babysitter. Barry Crump said, ‘The New Zealand Literary Fund came across with some dough to help me write this. Not a bad bunch.’ The New Zealand Literary Fund was a small amount of public money skilfully dispensed over 40 years to hundreds of writers and publishers. Unobtrusively but persistently, the fund and the dedicated men and women who allotted its largesse laid the foundations of the literary culture we enjoy today. From a small gesture of government patronage in the postwar world, it slowly grew, expanding its reach, enlarging its ambitions and acquiring partners. This is its story.

Featuring Papa Cliff Pool with Bathers, Taihape (1947) by Douglas MacDiarmid on the cover, a small oil from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Collection.

Available from Fishpond NZ

« | »

Life and Times of Douglas MacDiarmid biography
Visit our shop to purchase

Subscribe for updates

Receive the wisdom of Douglas and other updates from the MacDiarmid Arts Trust.



Social Media:

© Copyright 2020 MacDiarmid Arts Trust on behalf of Douglas MacDiarmid – New Zealand painter. All rights reserved