Obama Portraits Unveiled at National Portrait Gallery

WASHINGTON — Barack and Michelle Obama re-emerged on the public stage Monday in Washington, only this time for an event that has nothing to do with politics.

The former first couple’s official portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, a rite of passage for most former presidents, all of whom have their portraits hanging in the museum.

These are perhaps the most anticipated presidential portrait unveilings to date, due in large part to the artists the Obamas selected. The former president chose Kehinde Wiley, a Yale University-trained painter famous for his depiction of African-Americans posed in the style of Old Master paintings, regal, formal and filled with pops of color.

“Let’s just start by saying, ‘wow,’ ” Michelle Obama said after her portrait was unveiled. “I am a little overwhelmed, to say the least.”

Wiley is the first African-American artist to execute an official presidential portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.

The juxtaposition of contemporary urban culture with centuries-old postures and wallpaper-like backgrounds make for bold paintings, of which Obama’s will be Wiley’s most famous to date.

Wiley apparently took thousands of photographs of Obama in order to create the portrait, a process different than the typical “sittings” required for most portraits.

For her painting, Michelle Obama chose Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald. Sherald is another African-American artist known for her unique style, and her portraits also tend to underscore themes of social justice. She often paints black skin tones in gray as a way to take away the assigned “color” of her subjects. Sherald’s work is less about realism in composition and more about shape and color; like Wiley, the choice of Sherald ushers in a new era of presidential portrait.

The Obamas looked at the portfolios of more than two dozen artists before deciding on Wiley and Sherald. Obama’s portrait will hang in the hall of presidents and the former first lady’s will be placed in another gallery. Both will be open to public viewing on Tuesday.

18 comments

  • #potraitssoracist

    So if a white President chooses a white artist, he’s called a racist for not consigning a black artist. Need I remind everyone – Obozo is HALF black.

    • Best buds

      Didn’t know you spent all your time with them. Must have some clout to be closer to them than the Secret Service. Wasn’t it awkward though when he started playing Barry White and slipped into his burkha?

    • trucker

      He used the NSA to spy on anyone who disagreed with his ideas inspired by Saul Alinsky and Bill Ayers.
      Put a stop to operation Cassandra to protect his Hezbollah buddies engaged in drug running and child-sex trafficking.
      Gave the wife-beating head-chopping Iranian mullahs pallets of cash to fund tyranny, war and terror.
      Funded ISIS and unleashed the “ISIS Spring” so women are sold at slave auctions in Libya. Yet people worship this monster.

    • Learn Some Grammer

      You used the wrong word. There, their and they’re. Old Baldy did say he loves the poorly educated. I guess you’re a trumptard.

      • Peace, love, and understanding

        Must really, really suck to carry all that hate around for people that support the President. Seriously, it’s going to be a LONG eight years for you. Good for you though for pointing out grammatical errors, thanks to your contribution we’re one step closer to curing cancer.

      • Mr. President to you

        Whine, kick, pout, scream at the sky, eat some Tide Pods – doesn’t matter. President Donald Trump is still your President. Disrespect the office, disrespect the nation. I despised Clinton and Obama as individuals, but I still respected their position. You don’t deserve to call yourself an American.

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