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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Ken Done

1987
Rennie Ellis

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 62.0 cm x 47.0 cm, image: 43.9 cm x 29.3 cm)

Ken Done AM (b. 1940) painter, studied at East Sydney Technical College before becoming an advertising graphic designer. He gave up work to paint full-time in 1980. Soon, his stylised, colourful representations of Sydney’s beaches, harbour, animals and flowers found their way onto placemats, t-shirts, bibs, swimwear, sheets, mugs and vases. By 1987, when Rennie Ellis took this photograph for Playboy, Done had an annual turnover of more than $4 million. In 1994, Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum mounted the exhibition Ken Done: the art of design, and two years later he held his first European exhibition, in Paris. A few years ago, the genial artist told interviewer George Negus that sneers at his ‘commercial’ art by critics and other artists worried him – ‘I’d be tougher than I really am if I told you that it didn’t hurt sometimes’ – but his retail business, Done Art and Design, has endured, and his paintings sell well, particularly in the UK and Japan. Done was named Australia’s Father of the Year in 1989.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2006
© Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive
www.RennieEllis.com.au

Artist and subject

Rennie Ellis (age 47 in 1987)

Ken Done (age 47 in 1987)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Ken Done

'I am very Sydney'

Portrait story

Iconic Australian artist Ken Done discusses his life and career as a painter.

No shirt, no service

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

Bon Scott and Angus Young photographed by Rennie Ellis are part of a display celebrating summer and images of the shirtless male.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency