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losangelesnewstoday.com November 18, 2017


The Obamas Just Made History with Their Presidential Portrait Picks

18 October 2017, 12:40 | Nina Hammond

Get To Know The Artists Painting The Obamas' Official Portraits

Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to Paint Portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery made the announcement yesterday that former president Barack Obama wants Kehinde Wiley to paint his official portrait.

This will mark the first time that black artists were hired by the Smithsonian to create a portrait of a former president since they started commissioning portraits in 1994, though the White House did commission a black Alabaman artist, Simmie Knox, to paint the Clintons in 2000.

The portrait will be ready for display by 2018.

Both artists are celebrated for their mythic and buoyant depictions of black subjects. Wiley is known for his portraiture work that places black men and women in contemporary Baroque paintings, depicting them in a manner that historically was reserved only for European white noblemen.

Obama's predecessors have preferred to sit for 90-year old portrait artist Everett Raymond Kinstler, who has painted eight U.S. presidents, but Obama chose to go with Kehinde.

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Although he did not grow up with him, Kehinde's father is Nigerian while his mother is African American. He employs distinctive patterns to "complement his realistic, yet expressive, likenesses".

Kehinde Wiley has been commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute to produce the work for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a statement the museum is "absolutely delighted" the artists agreed to paint the official portraits of the couple.

Michelle Obama selected artist Amy Sherald, who is known for her life-size paintings of African-Americans, to paint her portrait, the museum announced Friday. Wiley has painted rapper LL Cool J in the style of John Singer Sargent, Ice T riding astride a horse a la Napoleon by David and young African American men in stained glass tableaus, like saints in a cathedral. His paintings are best described as vibrant and large in scale.

"I'd love, love, love to do his official presidential portrait".



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