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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.

Mel Gibson

1982
William Yang

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 54.2 cm x 40.6 cm, image: 44.4 cm x 29.8 cm)

Mel Gibson (b. 1956), actor and director, is the only Australian to have won an Academy Award for Best Director. He was born in New York State, sixth of eleven children of a railroad brakeman married to an Australian woman. In 1968 the family moved to Australia, where Gibson attended the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, playing Romeo to Judy Davis’s Juliet and Vladimir to Geoffrey Rush’s Estragon. In 1979 he turned in a sensitive performance as an intellectually impaired labourer in Tim. However, it was as the eponymous hero of the smash hit film Mad Max that he became a local star. In 1981 his performances in Mad Max 2 (released in the USA as The Road Warrior) and Gallipoli began to attract international attention. After his inauspicious Hollywood debut in The Bounty (1984), Lethal Weapon (1987) established him as an A-list actor. His subsequent films include Lethal Weapon II, III and IV (1989, 1992, 1998), What Women Want (2000) Signs (2002) and The Beaver (2011). As director he has made The Man Without a Face (1993), Braveheart (1995), which won him Best Director and Best Picture Oscars and the Best Director Golden Globe; the controversial hit The Passion of the Christ (2003) and the hideous bloodbath Apocalypto (2006).

This photograph was published in POL magazine in late 1984. It accompanied an article about William Yang’s ten-year retrospective at the Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, William Yang, Photographer: A Sydney Diary, and the release of Jim Sharman’s book Public Pictures. Gibson, on the eve of stardom, was not singled out for mention in the article, which stated that ‘there’s no doubt that Yang has been a benign influence on even the most appalling social occasions.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2003
© William Yang

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

William Yang (age 39 in 1982)

Mel Gibson AO (age 26 in 1982)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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.

Patrick White by William Yang

Portrait story

An interview with photographer William Yang who recalls his encounters with the author Patrick White.

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Australian Visit

Previous exhibition, 2006

The exhibition will include works of art from the NPG Canberra's permanent collection with some inward loans and aims to highlight the achievements of notable Australians.

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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