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Douglas Swan was born in Connecticut, USA in 1930 of Scottish parents and moved to Scotland with his family in 1936 at the age of six. After completing his National Service he studied at the Dundee College of Art from 1943-1953. Here his teachers included the Landscape painter James MacKintosh Patrick and Hugh Adam Crawford. After attending the Patrick Allan-Fraser School of Art, Hospitalfield, Arbroath (under Ian Fleming), he also studied at Trinity College of Music in London.
Swan began exhibiting at the Royal Scottish Academy, and he was awarded the R.S.A Scholarship in London in 1954 - it was here that he met and formed a lasting friendship with the artist William Scott (1913-1989). They painted together in Somerset and then in Cornwall. In 1958 he was awarded a British Council Scholarship for study in Italy when he met Lucio Fontana, Enrico Castellani and Roberto Crippa.
Throughout his life, Swan’s work was inspired by visits to Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland.
Early on his work was shown in group exhibitions at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, Young Contemporaries, London Group, Gimpel Fils, Waddington Gallery and the AIA Gallery, and he had two solo shows at the Stone Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1959 and 1964.
In the late 1960's Swan moved to Switzerland with his wife Barbara and became an important and established 20th Century Abstract painter. They later moved to Bonn. In 1986 he was awarded the Kunststipendium des Stadt, a major award given annually by the City of Bonn.
Swan later exhibited widely in Italy, Germany and Switzerland and his work has been included in both solo and group exhibitions in Europe retrospectively since his death in 2000.
His works are held in public and private galleries /collections in the UK, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands.