“I did my first painting as the bombs were dropping in World War II”
Desmond Morris held his first solo art exhibition in 1948, now at the age of 92 he is still actively painting and writing. Today, most of his paintings are in private collections but he also has works in public galleries and art museums in England, Scotland, Holland, Italy, Israel and the United States.
He has held 60 solo exhibitions of his paintings and 11 books have been written about his art. He has produced over 3300 paintings over the past 70 years.
His scientific studies of animals saw him take a B.Sc degree from Birmingham University in 1951 and a D.Phil from Oxford University in 1954. He then went on to do post-doctoral research at Oxford until, in 1956, he left to take up the post of Head of the TV and Film Unit at London Zoo. There he began to make TV programmes about animals and, later on, about human behaviour. In 1967 his book The Naked Ape was published and became one of the top 100 best-sellers of all time.
When asked to check his archives recently, he was surprised by the figures. As an academic zoologist, he published 48 scientific papers. When he turned to popular writing, he produced 360 articles in magazines and newspapers. He has written a total of 78 books, and has been published in 40 different languages. He has presented over 700 television programmes and has given over 470 television interviews.
Desmond Morris at 92 remains terrifyingly lucid, with a fearsome, inquisitive intelligence and a wicked wit. He says it is because he has been using both sides of his brain all his life; the scientific and the artistic.
As a nocturnal animal he works late into the night and sleeps until noon.