Monday, 18 June, 2018

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama presidential portraits unlike anything we have seen before

President Barack Obama at the unveiling of his President Barack Obama at the unveiling of his
Sammy Stanley | 16 February, 2018, 05:07

Barack and Michelle Obama attended the unveiling of their official portraits at Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

The fact that Obama approached Wiley to paint his official portrait (Michelle Obama's portrait was painted by Amy Sherald) is a historical first. They are the first African-American artists to receive the president and first lady commissions, respectively, and they bring a contemporary excitement to the traditional portrait, gallery Director Kim Sajet said.

Addressing Ms Sherald, Mr Obama added: "I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace, and beauty, and intelligence, and charm... and hotness, of the woman that I love". He also said he tried to negotiate less grey hair.

Both Obama's were painted by African-American artists who were personally chosen by them.

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The Obamas' official portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery on Monday, a rite of passage for former presidents, all of whom have their portraits hanging in the museum. Two sets are created, one for the White House and one for the National Portrait Gallery. Critics met the painting with both high praise and snarky comments. Michelle Obama's portrait, painted by Amy Sherald, shows her in a black and white dress looking thoughtful with her hand on her chin. Mr. Obama chose painter Kehinde Wiley, known for stylized portraits that address the politics of race, saying he admired the "degree to which [the paintings] challenge our conventional views of power and privilege". If you are familiar with Wiley's style, then you could imagine the issues that Barack may have in how he is represented.

'I was humbled by this invitation, but I was also inspired by Barack Obama's personal story'.

"How about that? Pretty sharp", the former president said after he and Wiley unveiled the life-size portrait to a swell of "wows" from the crowd. Mrs. Obama beamed as she described Sherald's work: "She is well on her way to distinguishing herself as one of the great artists of her generation".

While artist Nelson Shanks was no stranger to portraying important public figures-including royalty, world leaders and popes-his portrait of President Bill Clinton may be his most talked-about.

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