When photography was born and proclaimed the "mirror of nature," the death of portrait painting was announced.

Luckily, the prophets were way off the mark. In many ways photography liberated artists from the cozy conventions of portrait painting and set them off on a fresh discovery of the human face. The 20th-century face is explored in a new exhibition at the National Museum of Western Art, but don't expect many pretty pictures: "Visage" reflects the quest of such serious artists as Bacon, Klee and Giacometti. This is a challenging, well-presented show and includes some strong contemporary work from China and Korea.

The first gallery's theme is "creating individuality," by which the curators mean the curious way a portrait takes on a life of its own. Here is Picasso's 1937 portrait of his new mistress, Lora Maar. If any of his dislocated images of women can be called glamorous, this one can. Its vivid eroticism contrasts with a sober portrait of an old woman in intense blues.