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Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announces an open call from May 28 through September 3, 2018 for submissions to its fifth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Selected artworks are featured in a museum exhibition and some artists are awarded prizes. Held every three years, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition has accelerated participants’ careers.

The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today, the exhibition resulting from the Portrait Competition, is scheduled to be on view at the National Portrait Gallery from November 2, 2019, through September 6, 2020. A national tour is being planned in collaboration with four venues that will host the exhibition from October 2020 through January 2022. The exhibition will comprise approximately 50 finalist portraits, including the prizewinning entries.

Established in 2006, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition invites artists (18 and over) living and working in the United States to submit one portrait for consideration. This year, the competition will focus on broadening the definition of portraiture while highlighting the genre’s relevance in contemporary art and culture.

The competition welcomes all media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, textiles, video, performance and digital or time-based media. Artworks may originate from direct encounters between the artist and the sitter, but they may also be representative of indirect encounters.

The winner of the Portrait Competition will receive a cash award of $25,000 and will be awarded a separate commission to portray a remarkable living American for the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. The winning artist and the Portrait Gallery will collaborate to select the subject for the commissioned portrait.

The second-prize winner will receive $7,500, and the third-prize winner will receive $5,000.

Up to four additional artists may be commended for their work and those artists will receive $1,000 each. The winner of the People’s Choice Award during the exhibition at the Portrait Gallery will receive $500.

All finalists’ works will form a major exhibition on view at the Portrait Gallery from November 2, 2019, through September 6, 2020 and the subsequent national tour from October 2020 through January 2022.

The first round of judging will be conducted online by a panel of experts chosen by the National Portrait Gallery. The jury will select approximately 80 semifinalists. On or before November 12, 2018, the Portrait Gallery will contact artists who have been selected as semifinalists by email. Artists whose work is not selected for further consideration will also be notified at this time. Upon notification of semifinalist status, the artists and/or owners of the artworks will be required to sign loan agreements. Artists will be required to sign an affidavit confirming their eligibility.

On or before May 13, 2019, approximately 40 to 50 finalists will be selected for the exhibition (including those awarded prizes) and will be notified by email. The works that are not selected for the exhibition will be returned to their owners. The public will have the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice Award during the run of the exhibition.

All entries by eligible artists must be submitted electronically through the online submission site. Entries will be accepted electronically from May 28, 2018 (Memorial Day) through September 3, 2018 (Labor Day)

The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is organized by the National Portrait Gallery and it is possible by the Virginia Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment, established by Virginia Outwin Boochever and continued by her children.


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