Kehinde Wiley to Paint Official Presidential Portrait of Obama

Renown artists known for his vivid, expressive depictions of African-Americans tapped to create historic portrait

by Shantell E. Jamison, October 16, 2017


Former President Barack Hussein Obama has tapped Kehinde Wiley to create his official presidential portrait, the Smithsonian reports.

Wiley is widely known for his portraits of young Black men donning the latest street fashion. His paintings are best described as vibrant and large in scale. The Los Angeles native uses a rich, highly saturated color palette in the form of decorative patterns to create a realistic, yet expressive, likeness of his subjects.

The portrait, as well as one depicting former first lady Michelle Obama, was commissioned by the museum’s National Portrait Gallery.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “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.”

At the end of each presidency, the Smithsonian works in conjunction with the White House to commission an official portrait of the president and one of his spouse. The official portraits are two sets: one resides in the White House, while the other is housed at the National Portrait Gallery.




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