Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Barack and Michelle Obama's official portraits unveiled

Barack and Michelle Obama's official portraits unveiled

How was she chosen?

He quipped that Mr. Wiley, who painted his portrait, was at a disadvantage because his subject was "less becoming".

He also takes paintings of saints and heroes of Old Masters and replaces the subjects with black men and women.

As far as the "kill whitey" claim, it is true that Wiley once created a painting that featured a black woman severing the head of a white woman, and did tell New York Magazine that it was a satirical riff on the phrase. After all, they weren't painted together or by the same artist.

For Michelle Obama's official White House portrait, she chose artist Amy Sherald. Do you share that view?

Kehinde Wiley, the artist behind Obama's portrait, is not some run-of-the-mill painter, however.

Take Sherald's "It Made Sense..." "It's not really a representation of her".

While less famous than Wiley, Amy Sherald has honed another approach to African American portraiture. To retain a likeness, they had to be photographed, which was cheaper and more accessible.

The former first lady expressed she was a little overwhelmed that her "amazing portrait" would hang among "so many iconic figures".

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"Both of these artists want people to - especially young people to look at their work and see themselves in it", Dorothy Moss, with the National Portrait Gallery, said.

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German Felix Loch, who has won three consecutive gold medals, was in first in the last run but hit the wall and ended up fifth. The highest the US men had ever placed in the Olympics was fourth in 2002 (Adam Heidt) and 2006 (Tony Benshoof).

Kennicott: This all depends on the objective of the portrait.

"We've had a long, somewhat hard history with our portraits in this country", says Mercer.

Formal portraits, however, are a small subset of portraiture, which is wide open for experimentation. "They are innovative. They are a shout-out to the Obamas' beautifully unconventional way of bending the rules". These video portraits move slowly up the length of the body, only revealing the face at the end.

Long after Obama's presidency, his administration will be remembered through historic media such as those displayed at Smithsonian's gallery.

Kennicott: It's a powerful and important social statement. As a variation of the classical American pioneer, she sought out Sherald to translate what being the first meant to her. Sherald has a significant career, but has only in her 40s emerged on the national stage.

And Sherald doesn't make the kind of portraits you see hanging in boardrooms or above the fireplace mantle in the homes of the 1%. But these portraits will remind future generations how much wish fulfillment was embodied in the Obamas, and how gracefully they bore that burden.

Both artists are celebrated for their use of color.

Smith, a longtime favorite of Obama, was inspired by movements that the former first lady championed herself: human rights, racial equality, and LGBT justice.

The Hannity article said that the purported sperm in the Obama painting was part of a "shocking" and "widening scandal" about the portrait. But what's even more interesting were the meanings behind each painting. More recently he has expanded his repertoire to include female subjects, as well as models from Brazil, India, Nigeria and Senegal, creating the collective image of a global black aristocracy.

"She's known for a lot of things and one of them is fashion, so I knew that was important", Sherald says.

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