48 Finalists from the National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Contest

From rice to glitter, video and paint, these works reflect the best of contemporary portraiture

Mixing antique furniture with a scene from contemporary life, artist Vincent Giarrano chose a New York City woman for his portrait. Courtesy of the artist
In this portrait formality is a metaphor for the structure of the soul. Lilly's resemblance is fleeting, but her vibrancy colors the surface of the panel. Courtesy of the artist
Visting home on a break, Oliver became the subject of his mother's painting. She has captured his likeness at every year of his life, including when he was 20. Courtesy of the artist
The artist's self-portrait after a hockey game that left his face split open. Courtesy of Jay Bentley and Natalia Fabia
Through the use of scientific technology the artist was able to obtain images of her brain's fiber connections. The portrait was made by combining these with a woven self-portrait into an animated video. This is a still image from that video. Courtesy of the artist
An intimate self-portrait that looks back at the evolution from a young girlish figure to one that represents a life well-lived. Courtesy of the artist
A portrait of the artist's wife, Marie. Courtesy of the artist
Mike Henderson, a blues musician from the Bay Area, stands firm against a solid yellow background. Courtesy of the artist
Tim Doud explores the ways that identity is fabricated and becomes an act of presentation, particularly in relation to one's profession. Courtesy of the artist
This sculpture captures the special moment when the General's daughter, Syntonia, changed from young girl to young adult. Courtesy of Jim Kempner Fine Art, New York City
A portrait of dilemma which captures both the visible face of a specific person and the invisible aspects of emotion, the unconscious and memory. Courtesy of the artist
While Jessica is experiencing the emotion of a favorite song, the artist captures her emotional reaction in a video portrait that took home the contest's grand prize. Courtesy of the artist
An unflinching portrait of the artist's parents that speaks to disappointment and suffering. Courtesy of the artist
To represent architect César Pelli, Philip Grausman created a sculpture which he says captures the man's "underlying geometries and essential form," rather than specific characteristics. Courtesy of the artist
The artist sees the military salute, captured here in a still from his video portrait, as the male equivalent of the endlessly spinning ballerina in a jewel box. Courtesy of the artist
Skin is used as a metaphor for boundaries in this oil painting, where the portrait is found in the imperfections of blemishes. Courtesy of the artist
Uninterested in the likeness of people, the artist focused on the sensation of individuality and wrestles with the symbolism of the artist's red robe, borrowed from an overwhelmingly male history of the profession. Courtesy of the Alexandre Gallery, New York City
A portrait of the artist's cousins who live in a constant state of familial dysfunction. Courtesy of ACA Galleries, New York City
Kevin is from a series of tintype portraits made with a 19th century photo process. Composed of thousands of portraits, the project is a diverse representation of Americans. Courtesy of the artist
In this animation, the subject suffers a nervous breakdown in a gourmet supermarket while a nude woman practices yoga in a display of fall pumpkins. It is loosely based on the subject's experiences and features his original music. Courtesy of the artist
A portrait of the artist's father on Christmas. His father said of the portrait, "I have had a good life, blessed with wonderful marriage, and great kids. But there has been pain as well, including the deaths of two younger brothers. It is my way to hide the hurt and focus on good things. This portrait of me shows how things can't be hidden, and life is written on your face." Courtesy of the artist
Standing in the house she inherited when her father died, Valerie is shown both inspired and confounded by the legacy in this 2010 portrait by her friend, Catherine Prescott. Courtesy of the artist
Katie O'Hagan says this self-portrait served as a turning point in her art in 2011, as she moved from conventional portraiture into something more personal. Courtesy of the artist
When her doctor told her to paint her pain in 2010, Tina Mion imagined herself as a piñata whose contents had come spilling out. Courtesy of the artist
Building on her own archival research of the foundations of racism, Heidi Fancher posed herself as a slave named Delia who was the subject of a photograph taken 162 years earlier in an effort to restore her humanity to her in 2010. Courtesy of the artist
Paul D'Amato says of this work, "I'm a white photographer taking pictures in the west side of Chicago, a neighborhood that is African American and poor. I'm not supposed to be there." For his photographs, D'Amato approaches strangers and asks their permission to take a portrait. Together they choose a location. Courtesy of the artist and the Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago
Photographer Veronika Adaskova documented the life stories of Sudeten Germans in the Czech Republic who were persecuted as Nazi Germans after WWII. She took this portrait in Brooklyn, New York in 2011. Courtesy of the artist
After suffering a minor stroke in 2009, artist Leslie Adams says she felt compelled to answer the question, "What is self?" Courtesy of the artist
This hyper-realistic portrait of the artist's grandmother is actually a drawing of graphite and ink made in 2011. Courtesy of the artist
Louie Palu captured this moment in 2010 as a wounded soldier in a medevac helicopter after a night raid in Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan. Courtesy of the artist
When Beverly McIver lost her mother in 2004, she then had to care for her mentally disabled sister, Renee. Feeling overwhelmed and depressed, she painted this self-portrait to capture her emotions. Courtesy of the Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York City
Megan Ledbetter's friend and subject of this 2010 portrait, Reese, told her "I am glad I have never been as sad as I seem in this picture," demonstrating the complicated relationship between artist, subject and representation. Courtesy of the artist
Bridget Lanigan describes her uncle as "a character, in every sense of the word." Courtesy of the artist
When Saeri Kiritani moved to the United States, she began to notice small details about herself she hadn't in Japan, including that she ate mostly rice. Though she wants to blend in, she also wants to appeal to her "natural existence," and the tension between the two helped her produce this 2010 self-portrait made of rice, rice noodles, glue and a wood and metal frame. Courtesy of the artist
Brooklyn, New York artist David Kassan painted this portrait of his mother in 2010. Courtesy of Robin and Michael Wilkinson
Lucy Fradkin chose to paint her husband, also an artist, watering the garden as he dreamed of another home for the two of them, which they found a month after she completed the portrait in 2011. Courtesy of the artist
A self-portrait of the artist as she undergoes a second round of chemotherapy. Courtesy of Jalane and Richard Davidson
A single, unbroken thread forms the serene face of Kumi Yamashita's otherwise chatty niece, Mana. Courtesy of the artist
Typically constantly in motion, drag performer Lily is shown projected onto a glitter screen as part of artist Jill Wissmiller's series, Snakes, Electricity, and Scorned Women about drag performers, meth manufacturing and Las Vegas landscapes. Courtesy of the artist
Using pastel on paper the artist creates a "handcrafted" likeness before your eyes using specific, unrealistic strokes and dots. Courtesy of the artist
From a series of street portraits that serve as a record of a diverse population of Americans whose struggles and hardships are spoken on their faces. Courtesy of the artist
Inez Imake is a painter that only exists in the artist's dreams. So moved by this fictional character and her paintings the artist decided to paint her portrait. Courtesy of the artist
When the artist came across these two families in Iceland he was struck by the perfection of their arrangement, almost mimicking that of a 19th century painting. Courtesy of the artist
This portrait was made in admiration of the artist's friend and to honor the ordinary talents that our culture forgets. Courtesy of the artist
Neil Shigley's subjects are all homeless people living near his studio whose situation, he believes, we need to confront and bring into focus. Courtesy of the artist
Carolyn Scham characterizes Frances as a renaissance woman in the truest way and hopes to communicate her remarkable character. Courtesy of the artist
As part of a larger series titled Annabelle, Annabelle, the artist uses encounters with strangers to photograph larger stories that elicit life and death, power and vulnerability, and magnificence and uncertainty. Courtesy of the artist
"I have been carving self-portraits one by one mindlessly for confirming my existence," writes Aono in his poetic artist's statement about the piece. Courtesy of the artist

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