Barack and Michelle Obama surfaced at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Monday morning for the unveiling of their official portraits.
The former president’s portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley, an artist best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African-Americans posed in the style of Old Master paintings, regal, formal and filled with pops of color.
Mrs. Obama’s portrait was commissioned by Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald, first-prize winner of the Portrait Gallery’s 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Sherald’s portraits tend to underscore themes of social justice. She often paints black skin tones in gray as a way to take away the assigned “color” of her subjects. Sherald’s work is less about realism in composition and more about shape and color; like Wiley, the choice of Sherald ushers in a new era of presidential portrait
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