British painter (mainly of still-life) and administrator. He was born in London of Scottish extraction and studied at Edinburgh College of Art. During the Second World War he served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. In 1946 he joined the staff of the Tate Gallery, London; he became deputy director in 1954 and he was director from 1964 until 1979. His appointment was controversial, as other candidates including Lawrence Gowing and Bryan Robertson (see Whitechapel Art Gallery) had a far stronger public profile. Nonetheless, he deserved some of the credit for the speed with which the Tate responded to and reflected the contentious developments of the late 1960s such as Conceptual art. During his directorship, a much-needed extension was opened and Rothko's Seagram murals, now regarded as among the great treasures of the collection, were donated by the notoriously prickly artist. Reid's work at the Tate left him little opportunity for his own painting, but after his retirement he returned to it full-time, and he had his first one-man exhibition in 1991.
From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.