BP Portrait Award 2014

The annual BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery. 2,377 paintings, a few sculptures and videos were entered, 55 were selected to go on show, including the prize winners, £30,000 for first prize, £10,000 second, £8,000 third. Most of the entries are oil paintings, with the notable exception of Marc Quinn’s sculpture of his own head made in blood, and a video of David Beckham sleeping. Sweet.

The standard struck me as low. A number of the portraits of famous people, where you could compare against life, were dire; many very average. I’d estimate between 10 and 20 were memorable or valid. The winners are:

I really liked the Simon Armitage portrait, and quite liked the others…

It is striking how many of the paintings, which looked crude and amateurish and unfinished when seen in the flesh, 4 or 5 or 6 feet tall, hanging on a wall, look vastly better when reduced to one inch square photos in magazines or online.

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