The Obamas’ Official Portraits Have Been Unveiled

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Today, Barack and Michelle Obama’s official presidential portraits were unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. It’s perhaps the most-anticipated portrait unveiling in US history, not only because of the current political climate but because of the modern artists both Obamas chose for their likenesses.

The former President chose Kehinde Wiley, famous for his portraits of African-American men in the regal style of classical Old Master paintings, often filled with bright pops of color. For example:

 

Chad Nurse as General John Burgoyne, 2017 Oil on canvas 72 x 60 in

A post shared by Kehinde Wiley (@kehindewiley) on

 

At the unveiling, Mr. Obama said “How about that? That’s pretty sharp,” before continuing,”I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow (him) to do what I asked. I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well.”

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

Former First Lady Michelle Obama chose Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald, known for her more conceptual work, often painting black skin tones in gray and experimenting outside of realistic shape and color.

“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,” the 44th President continued.

Mrs. Obama thanked Sherald for the impact she’ll have on girls and girls of color. “They will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the walls of this great American institution. And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls.”

Both portraits will be visible to the public on Tuesday. Take a glimpse at the work below.