For more information or to apply, visit portraitcompetition.si.edu.
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced an open call from Oct. 2 through Jan. 26, 2024, for submissions to its seventh triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Established in 2006, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition invites artists (ages 18 and over) living and working in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to submit one portrait created in the past three years for consideration by a panel of experts. Selected artworks, including three prizewinners, are then 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, socioeconomic status and other conditions that shape a person’s individual and collective identities.
The first-prize winner will receive $25,000 and a commission to portray a remarkable living American for the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Additional prizes in the amounts of $10,000 and $7,500 will be awarded to second- and third-place winners, respectively. Selected artworks will form “The Outwin 2025: American Portraiture Today” exhibition, which will be displayed at the Portrait Gallery from April 26, 2025, through Feb. 22, 2026, before traveling to other cities in the United States.
Held every three years, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition has accelerated participants’ careers. First-prize winners of the triennial competition include David Lenz (2006), Dave Woody (2009), Bo Gehring (2013), Amy Sherald (2016), Hugo Crosthwaite (2019) and Alison Elizabeth Taylor (2022). Works from the triennial’s sixth edition, including Taylor’s winning “Anthony Cuts under the Williamsburg Bridge, Morning,” can still be viewed online. “The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today” is on tour through May 5, 2024.
The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is organized by the National Portrait Gallery. Taína Caragol, curator of painting, sculpture, and Latinx art and history, is the director of the 2025 competition. For each competition, the museum selects four professionals from outside the museum (critics, art historians, artists) and three members of its staff to serve as jurors. Guest jurors for this competition are Carla Acevedo-Yates, the Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Huey Copeland, the BFC Presidential Associate Professor of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; LaToya Ruby Frazier, artist; and Daniel Lind-Ramos, artist. Portrait Gallery co-curators of “The Outwin 2025” exhibition Caragol and Charlotte Ickes, curator of time-based media art and special projects, will serve on the jury with Rhea L. Combs, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs.
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. All entries by eligible artists must be submitted electronically through the online submission site. Visit the website for further instructions and details.
The competition and exhibition are made possible by the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment, which was established by Virginia Outwin Boochever, a longtime docent at the National Portrait Gallery. The endowment is sustained by her family.