Alan MacDiarmid ; Marianne Muggeridge; 2002; 2002.001
Marianna Muggeridge painted Alan MacDiarmid in 2002, during one of his regular visits to New Zealand from his home in the United States. Some portrait artists might be daunted by the sight of the Nobel Laureate turning up at the art studio in a multi-coloured, strongly-patterned shirt, but Muggeridge saw it as a challenge. It took such a long time to paint that Muggeridge's partner modelled the shirt after MacDiarmid left in order to finish the painting. The shirt was also buttoned up over a pillow, propped on a chair for even more time.
The molecular formula written across the top of the painting is for the organic molecule, polyacetylene -- a chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms, that has been "doped " with an iodine atom. In the 1970's, MacDiarmid, in collaboration with Hideki Shirakawa and Alan Heeger discovered this molecule as an excellent conductor of electricity, winning them the Nobel Prize for the discovery that plastics could conduct electricity, in 2000.
MacDiarmid had a 52-year career at the University of Pennsylvania as a professor of chemistry, and passed away suddenly when preparing for one of his regular visits home to New Zealand.
2002Medium and Materials
Oil on canvas
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