The Obamas Choose Artist Kehinde Wiley To Paint Their Official Presidential Portrait

Ruben Ruiz
October 17, 2017

Wiley is best known for his portraits of Black celebrities and civilians that, according to the Smithsonian's announcement, incorporate "theatrical poses and props" that "make references to iconic portraits of powerful figures by Western artists". After each presidency, the gallery now collaborates with artists to paint the former presidents and first ladies.

A Columbus, Georgia native has been selected by former First Lady, Michelle Obama to create her official portrait.

Barack and Michelle Obama hand picked the two artists who will paint the portraits that will memorialize them in perpetuity at The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and both artists are black. "As a portrait painter, I have an opportunity to narrate this story for us in a way that has not been narrated historically".

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The couple apparently hand-picked Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to do the paintings, the Wall Street Journal reports. In 2012, Wiley told BBC that "Obama stands as a signal that this nation will continue to redefine what it means to push beyond the borders of what's possible".

The two portraits will be unveiled at The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in early 2018 and will be added to the Portrait Gallery's permanent collection. "We'll see where that goes". She won the top prize at the Portrait Gallery's 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, which includes creating a portrait of a living person for the permanent collection.

Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald, 44, is known for creating striking portraits of African-American people, whose skin she depicts in gray scale monochrome against brightly colored, often textural backgrounds. They will be paid for their commissioned paintings through private donations.

Other reports by GizPress

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