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Portrait of Kym Bonython/Portrait of Mr Bonython's speedway cap, 1963-66

John Brack

oil on canvas (diptych)

Hugh Reskymer 'Kym' Bonython AC DFC AFC (1920-2011), company director, art dealer, jazz authority, music promoter and speedway entrepreneur, was one of the most significant collectors and dealers of contemporary Australian art in the postwar period. Raised in Adelaide, where his grandfather and father had been leading philanthropists, he served in the RAAF during World War II before returning to the ABC as a broadcaster. His jazz program ran from 1937 to the mid-1970s. As a music promoter, Bonython brought scores of international jazz and rock acts to Australia. At the same time, he was a speedway impresario in Adelaide from 1954 to 1973 and won the Australian speedway championship in 1956. He owned galleries in Sydney from 1965 to 1976, and Adelaide from 1961 to 1983. Director of Austereo Ltd from 1979 to 1991, he sat on a host of arts-related boards and committees. Bonython wrote six books on Australian painting and an autobiography, published in 1979.

John Brack painted Kym Bonython on commission in 1963. When the work was completed, Bonython asked the artist to alter it to show him wearing his racing cap. Brack protested that it would upset the balance of the painting, and instead suggested a separate canvas depicting the cap. The two paintings are now considered to be a single work. Portrait of Kym Bonython was rescued from the flames as the Bonython family home burned to the ground on Ash Wednesday in February 1983.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Kym Bonython AC DFC AFC 2007Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Helen Brack

Accession number: 2007.19.a-b

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

John Brack (age 43 in 1963)

Kym Bonython (age 43 in 1963)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts


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