The Official Portraits of the Obamas Are Out
They are like none before them, the people and the paintings.
On Monday, the official portraits of President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama were unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The atypical paintings by Kehinde Wiley, a 40-year-old artist known for painting black men and women in heroic postures, and Amy Sherald, a Baltimore-based artist with a smaller portfolio, are the first of its kind to hit the gallery.
Today, @BarackObama and @MichelleObama became the first presidential couple to be painted by African American artists for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. https://t.co/gKAZ47b2Oh pic.twitter.com/mM3LGxFgxO
— The Obama Foundation (@ObamaFoundation) February 12, 2018
While Presidential portraits have leaned towards brown backdrops and white men standing with their hands on a desk of sorts in the past, President Obama’s disrupts the ideas that come to mind with his portrait. At the unveiling, the former President commented on his choice to commission the project by Wiley, “What I was struck by when I saw his portraits was the degree by which they challenged our conventional views of power and privilege, and the way he would take extraordinary care and precision and vision in recognizing the beauty and the grace and the dignity of people who are so often invisible in our lives, and put them on a grand stage.”
Wiley has said, “Painting is about the world that we live in. Black men live in the world. My choice is to include them. This is my way of saying yes to us.”
At the ceremony, Michelle Obama also took to the stage to share why she chose Amy Sherald for her regal portrait. “I’m…thinking about all the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who in years ahead will come to this place and they will look up, and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution. I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls,” Mrs. Obama shared.
As for President 44, he also shared his gratitude. “Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman I love.”
Wow, talk about Presidential couple goals.