Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Salomon (Salek) Minc (1906–1983)

by Robyn Taylor

This article was published:

Salomon (Salek) Minc (1906-1983), medical practitioner and art patron and collector, was born on 6 February 1906 at Siedlce, Russian Poland, younger son of Jewish parents Matys Minc, bank manager, and his wife Roza, née Kastelanski. The Minc family experienced anti-Semitism during the Russian Revolution and, after his father was killed, Salomon fled with his mother and brother to Warsaw. Completing his secondary education at the Jewish gymnasium in 1921, he furthered his studies in Belgium before moving to Italy in 1922 to study medicine and surgery. Graduating from the University of Rome in 1930, he achieved top marks and high commendation; he worked as a medical officer and associate-physician at the United Hospitals of Rome. On 17 March 1930 in Rome he married Latvian-born Rosa Reisa Temko. He became an Italian citizen in 1932. Interested in art, music and literature, he was friendly with a number of artists including Corrado Cagli and Mirko Basaldella. An excellent singer, he claimed to be the only Jew to have sung in a Vatican choir.

In September 1938 all foreigners of Jewish origin who had been granted Italian nationality after 1 January 1919 were deprived of their citizenship. Minc moved to England and then decided, at the toss of a coin, to migrate to Australia. Leaving in July 1939, he worked on board the MV Centaur as ship’s surgeon, disembarking at Fremantle on 6 April 1940. His wife arrived in July and they settled in Perth; there were no children from the marriage and they were to be divorced in 1952. Naturalised on 25 July 1946, he established a medical practice as a specialist physician and cardiologist, with a special interest in preventive cardiology. He held positions at the (Royal) Perth and Fremantle hospitals and the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children; he was an associate and then full member of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

In Perth Minc made friends with a number of intellectuals who shared his cultural interests. Known as Salek, he collected contemporary Australian and European art and took a particular interest in helping young artists. He was a founding member (1948) and a chairman of the Art Group and was an early president of the Art Gallery Society of Western Australia, with which the Art Group merged in 1951. During his overseas travels he amassed a large collection of transparencies, which he used in public talks on art appreciation. From 1964 he lectured on art at the University of Western Australia’s summer schools; he was a founding member (1974) of the university’s art collection board of management. He was a vice-president of the International Association of Art Critics, Australian division. In 1981-2005 UWA hosted the annual Salek Minc lecture series.

Minc continued to work as a doctor until 1983. He died on 10 February that year at his Crawley home and was buried with Jewish rites in Karrakatta cemetery. Described by an obituarist as a ‘rotund, smiling, urbane figure’ and ‘Renaissance man’, he bequeathed a large part of his art collection to his friend Tedye McDiven who, with her husband Bryant, established the Salek Minc Gallery next to their home near York. The collection was opened to the public from 1986 to 1998, when the gallery closed.

Select Bibliography

  • West Australian, 5 Mar 1983, p 41
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 6 Aug 1983, p 152, 17 Nov 1986, p 531
  • Country Copy, Nov 1986, p 2
  • Fremantle Arts Review, July 1990, p 3
  • A442, item 1952/14/1186, A261, item 1939/1333, PP15/1, item 1953/63/8452 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Robyn Taylor, 'Minc, Salomon (Salek) (1906–1983)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 15 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


6 February, 1906
Siedlce, Poland


10 February, 1983 (aged 77)
Crawley, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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