The Obamas’ Official Portraits are Here!

February 12, 2018

Behold! The official portraits for President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama were unveiled this morning at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The portraits were commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, paid for through private donations, and the artists were selected by the Obamas, according to Artnet.

President Obama’s portrait was painted by world-renowned fine artist Kehinde Wiley, known for his unique depictions of young Black men and women in Baroque-style poses and backdrops.

First Lady Obama’s portrait was painted by Baltimore artist Amy Sherald, who specializes in portraits of Black women. Sherrald’s portraits often depict their subjects with grey skin, contrasted with bright colors for backdrops and clothing.

While both artists made history with these commissioned portraits — Wiley is the first gay African-American artist and Sherrald is the first African-American woman — Alabama-born painter Simmie Knox was the first African-American artist to be commissioned for presidential portraits. His portraits of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton were unveiled in The White House’s East Wing in 2004.

What do you think of the Obamas’ official portraits?

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