The call for entries for the next Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition will be held in the summer of 2008.            


Since the beginning of time, artists have expressed their thoughts, feelings, hopes, and ideals by depicting something we all possessthe human form. Cavemen did it. Rembrandt did it. Andy Warhol did it. Now the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is inviting artists all over America to do it.

The Gallery is welcoming portraiture into the 21st century with its first-ever Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006. Named for Virginia Outwin Boochever, a former NPG volunteer whose generous gift endowed this program, the inaugural competition and resulting exhibition will focus on innovation and excellence in portrait painting and sculpture.

Painting and sculpture are two of the most traditional media employed by artists. During the last few decades of the 20th century, artists such as Lucien Freud, Duane Hanson, Alice Neel, Chuck Close, Philip Pearlstein, and Alex Katz—all made innovative and compelling portraits—were few in number.

Recently, however, many of today’s emerging artists are using portraiture or self-portraiture to explore complex issues of identity. At the same time, those artists are also testing the boundaries of the genre of figurative art. Others are finding success through a renewed attention to classical training in representational art. Artists who regularly create portraits on commission are also experiencing a higher level of interest in their work. In short, portraiture has become the rising star of contemporary art.

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