Submit your portrait for consideration in the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition through September 3, 2018.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery invites artists to submit portraits in any media for consideration in the fifth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

This year, the focus is on broadening the definition of portraiture and highlighting the genre’s relevance in contemporary art and culture. Artworks may originate from direct encounters between the artist and the sitter, but they may also be representative of indirect encounters.

All finalists’ works will form a major exhibition that will be on view at the Portrait Gallery from November 2019 through September 2020, and there are plans for a subsequent national tour. The competition is named for Virginia Outwin Boochever (1920–2005), a former Portrait Gallery volunteer whose generous gift endowed this program.

Painting of a woman in a red hat against a blue background
Details and Prizes

The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is open to artists who are at least 18 years old (by September 3, 2018) and who are living and working in the United States or its territories. Each artist may enter one work.

The competition welcomes all media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, textiles, video, performance, and digital or time-based media.

The first-prize winner will receive $25,000 and will be awarded a commission to portray a remarkable living American for the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Select additional cash prizes will also be awarded.

Works must be new; any works completed before January 1, 2016, will be disqualified. All entries must be submitted electronically through the online submission site, now open through September 3, 2018. There is a non-refundable registration fee of $50.

A painting of a man wearing a large red, white and blue necklace

Harry Gamboa Jr., essayist, photographer, performance artist, and founding member of the Chicano collective Asco (lives in Los Angeles, California)

Lauren Haynes, curator of contemporary art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

Byron Kim, artist, senior critic, Yale University School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut (lives in Brooklyn, New York)

Jefferson Pinder, artist, professor of sculpture and contemporary practices, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

National Portrait Gallery Curators, Washington, D.C.

Taína Caragol, curator of painting and sculpture; curator of Latino art and history

Brandon Brame Fortune, Chief Curator

Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture; director of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition

Submit your work here.