Jeanette Bonnier was an influential journalist and art collector. She founded the Maria Bonnier Dahlin Foundation for young artists in 1985 and Bonniers Konsthall in 2006.
Jeanette Bonnier was born in 1934. She grew up in a wealthy environment, with considerable economic and cultural capital. Almost all of her family worked within the family-owned publishing and newspaper company. Her father Albert Jr., son of the publisher Tor Bonnier, had largely dedicated himself to the weekly newspaper industry. He set up the young people’s magazine Vecko-Revyn in 1935 and was CEO of Åhlén & Åkerlund publishers from 1940 to 1957. He was also one of the originators behind the evening paper Expressen, established in 1944, and later became board director of Bonnierföretagen AB, a post he held until his death in 1989. His daughter, Jeanette Bonnier also became a strong representative of the Bonnier family. From 1958 to 1961 she was married to Bengt Thomasson, a doctor working at the Sahlgrenska hospital in Gothenburg. She then married the director Hans Dahlin, and was married to him from 1964 to 1970. Their daughter Maria was born in 1964.
Jeanette Bonnier developed an interest in visual art at an early age. Her solid cultural background allowed her to buy a lithograph by Picasso with her pocket money when she was twelve years old, a story which, implausible as it sounds, has been confirmed by Jeanette Bonnier herself. Over time she became an acknowledged art expert. Before that she educated herself thoroughly through the family businesses.
Jeanette Bonnier had already started working in the advertising section of Åhlén & Åkerlund publishers while at school. When she turned 18 she started to work at Expressen as a general reporter. The next year she became assistant editor-in-chief of Filmjournalen, and the following year, 1954, of Bildjournalen. She returned to Åhlén & Åkerlund publishers in 1956 as head of advertising and as sectional head of the fashion magazine Eva, which was a successor to Bonniers månadstidning. After a break in publishing Jeanette Bonnier returned as editor of Eva for one year in 1962.
Throughout the rest of the 1960s Jeanette Bonnier worked as a publishing editor and designer. For example she was responsible for furnishing the boat Prins Hamlet, which belonged to Lion Ferry, one of the Bonnier-owned ferry companies. After her divorce from Dahlin in 1970 her focus on the art world was sharpened as she moved to New York. There she moved in with the actor Kevin McCarthy. In 1973 Jeanette Bonnier and the mayor of New York, John Lindsay, made a major inventory and extensive acquisitions of significant contemporary American artists including Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and the Swede Öyvind Fahlström, on behalf of the Swedish Moderna museet.
Jeanette Bonnier spent periods living in Portugal. In 1974 she married the Finnish author and politician Jörn Donner in Lisbon. They settled in Helsinki for a time and co-authored a film script of Märta Tikkanen’s book Män kan inte våldtas, in 1975. The film premiered in 1978.
From 1980 to 1983 Jeanette Bonnier and the Stockholm-based art collector Jan Eric Löwenadler ran an art gallery called Bonlow Gallery in New York. She had previously been the director of a department store called Bonnier Inc., in Manhattan, which sold Swedish glassware and design.
Jeanette Bonnier’s daughter Maria Dahlin trained to be an architect in the USA at Columbia University. On her return to Stockholm in 1985 Maria died in a car accident and Jeanette Bonnier never overcame the sorrow of losing her daughter. She decided to honour her daughter’s memory by setting up a foundation for young artists within the spheres of architecture, film, and painting. Instead of the traditional obituary Jeanette Bonnier published an announcement for the Maria Bonnier Dahlin Memorial Fund in the papers three days after her daughter’s accident. In 2006 Bonniers Konsthall was opened, financed by the foundation which annually awards the Maria Bonnier Dahlin stipend to young Swedish artists.
Jeanette Bonnier and Jörn Donner separated in 1988. After that Jeanette Bonnier was mainly engaged in various executive roles: She was on AB Svensk Filmindustri’s production council and board, on the board of the Expressen and Dagens Nyheter newspapers, as well as on the board of the mother company Albert Bonnier AB. At the time of Jeanette Bonnier’s death she owned ten percent of the Bonnier corporate group, making her the largest stakeholder, and she often served as the public face of the family-owned businesses.
Jeanette Bonnier died in 2016.