26 Jan 2021

Competitions Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition

The Smithsonian InstitutionWashington, D.C., United States

The Smithsonian Institution

Opportunity Description

U.S. National Deadline: February 5, 2021 – The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announces an open call for submissions to its sixth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Artworks by prizewinners and finalists are  featured in a museum exhibition.

The competition focuses on broadening the definition of portraiture while highlighting the genre’s wider relevance to society and within the field of contemporary art. It aims to bring together works that attend to the country’s diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status and other conditions that shape the individual and collective identities of artists and sitters.

Established in 2006, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition invites artists (18 and over) living and working in the United States, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam, to submit one portrait for consideration by a panel of experts. Works must be recent; any works completed before January 1, 2019, will be disqualified.

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, or draw on earlier references, such as art historical images or archival sources. Portraits may be of individuals or groups and represent sitters of different ages.

The first-prize winner will receive USD 25,000 and a commission to portray a remarkable living American for the Portrait Gallery’s collection. Additional cash prizes will be awarded. Submissions from each finalist and prizewinner will form The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today exhibition, which will be displayed at the Portrait Gallery from April 30, 2022, through February 26, 2023, before traveling to other cities.

Tour Schedule:

  • Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts: October 3, 2020 – April 4, 2021
  • Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery: April 30, 2022 – February 26, 2023
  • TBA: Early May 2021 – Mid-August 2021
  • Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum: September 10, 2021 – January 23, 2022


  • Kathleen Ash-Milby – Curator of Native American Art, Portland Art Museum
  • Catherine Opie - Photographer and Professor, UCLA
  • Ebony G. Patterson - Artist, Chicago
  • John Yau - Poet, Critic, Professor of Critical Studies, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University
  • Taína Caragol – Competition Director and Co-curator; Curator of Painting, Sculpture, and Latinx Art and History, National Portrait Gallery
  • Dorthy Moss – Curator of Painting and Sculpture , National Portrait Gallery
  • Leslie Ureña – Competition Co-curator; Associate Curator of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery

There is a nonrefundable registration fee of $50.

All entries by eligible artists must be submitted electronically through the online submission site. Artists may only submit one artwork for consideration.

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.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists, whose lives tell the American story.

Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
8th St NW & F St NW
Washington, DC 20001

Opp Categories: + Open to Multi-Media. Opp Types: Competitions. Opp Tags: Deadlines 01 Jan thru Feb, Extended Deadlines, and Open to U.S. Artists Only. Income: Cash or Value Awards, Exhibition – Group, and Exhibition – Traveling. Opportunity expires in 10 days.

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