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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.

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Jørn Utzon

1965 (printed 2006)
Jozef Vissel

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 30.3 cm x 40.3 cm, image: 27.3 cm x 34.3 cm)
Jørn Utzon

Jørn Utzon AC (1918–2008), architect, designed the Sydney Opera House. Utzon designed his first building of note, his own home in Copenhagen, in 1952. Just four years later he won the international competition to build the Opera House. He arrived in Australia with the plans in 1963. Construction got off to a premature start, and Utzon's brief changed at Stage 1. By 1964 he was in dispute with the government over his choice of subcontractors for Stage 3. In 1965 a newly elected government demanded detailed plans and firm timelines. Utzon resigned in 1966, after the Minister for Public Works stopped paying him, and went back to Denmark. The Opera House was completed in 1973, with interiors completely different from Utzon's models. He and his architect son Jan were appointed consultants in 1999 to ensure that any future changes would accord with his design principles. In 2003 he was awarded architecture's highest honour, the Pritzker Prize. The year before Utzon died, the Opera House was declared a World Heritage Site. He never returned to Sydney to see the Opera House completed.

Jozef Vissel's iconic portrait of Utzon was taken just before the architect withdrew from the project. To create the 'gull's wing' outline that inspired Utzon’s original design for the Opera House's glass walls, Vissel took about 30 photos of the architect's hands on the same negative.

Gift of the artist 2005
© Jozef Vissel

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

Jozef Vissel (age 30 in 1965)

Jørn Utzon AC (age 47 in 1965)

Subject professions

Architecture, design and fashion

Donated by

Jozef Vissel (13 portraits)

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency