Barack and Michelle Obama Select Artists to Paint Their Official Portrait

Voters line-up to cast their ballot in New York Tuesday Nov. 4 2008

Barack Obama has selected Kehinde Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, the Smithsonian has announced. She is known for painting surreal portraits of elegant black women, their skin done in grayscale and the clothing bright and colorful. The two paintings will be unveiled at the museum in early 2018 and will be added to the Portrait Gallery's permanent collection.

President Obama requested his portrait be painted by 40-year-old Wiley, who is from NY.

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Wiley is a New York-born artist best known for his recreation of paintings by the Old Masters that are remixed with black bodies and accoutrements from hip-hop culture. "The theatrical poses and props Wiley assigns to his subjects make references to iconic portraits of powerful figures by Western artists", the Smithsonian said in a press release. Last year, she became the first African-American and first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition; she was chosen for the $25,000 award from among 2,500 entrants. "Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century". The two sets of official portraits (one for the White House and one for the National Portrait Gallery) are financed through private funds and have been a tradition beginning with former president George H.W. Bush. We definitely can not wait to see the paintings of the Obamas; they're sure to make us miss them even more.

In fact, Michelle Obama's portrait choice is no slouch either.


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