Iconic Obama Portraits Unveiled in DC

Iconic Obama Portraits Unveiled in DC

Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday offered what was perhaps the most weird assessment yet of former President Barack Obama's official portrait by suggesting an artist included "sexual innuendo" in his depiction of the 44th president.

The portrait of the former president was made by artist Kehinde Wiley, who is a Yale University-trained painter.

At first glance, the recently unveiled portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama appear as their occupancy of the White House did-a dazzling and elegant streak of light and color. Kehinde lifted them up, and gave them a platform, and said they belonged at the center of American life.

The former lady explained that she chose Sherald for the impact that her work will have on future generations of minority girls.

Cillizza: My first reaction to the portrait was that it didn't look like Michelle Obama.

Ben Shapiro, of the Daily Wire, was even more pointed in his criticism-captioning a piece of abstract art with, "LOVE the new portrait of Michelle Obama".

With the unveiling here Monday at the National Portrait Gallery of the official presidential likenesses of Barack Obama and the former first lady, Michelle Obama, this city of myriad monuments gets a couple of new ones, each radiating, in its different way, gravitas (his) and glam (hers).

"I look pretty sharp", Barack said after seeing himself in art form.


"They are artists who are very committed to representing minorities, African-Americans, people from Madrid, coffee-and-milk people", he said.

Both portraits will hang in Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. alongside those of previous American leaders.

Wiley said of the work: "I am painting women in order to come to terms with the depictions of gender within the context of art history".

Guests gathered in the light-filled Kogod Courtyard, snapping pictures with the fashionably-dressed artists and other luminaries before the director of the Portrait Gallery Kim Sajet (sporting a signature statement necklace) introduced the Obama's to roaring applause.

The museum holds portraits of all American ex-commanders in chief, but these latest additions stand in stark contrast to the more buttoned-down approach of traditional presidential portraiture. As with many works of art, this was meant to be provocative ("I think at its best what art is doing is setting up a set of provocations", Wiley said in a 2015 interview).

For her portrait, the former first lady selected artist Amy Sherald from Baltimore, whose paintings usually underscore themes of social justice.

Smith's sketch of her dress for Michelle Obama. Indeed, the pose of Obama, who is seen in a dark suit with an open-collar shirt, sitting with his arms crossed and resting on his knees, recalls Robert Anderson's official 2008 portrait of George W. Bush, who is rendered in a similar, casual pose.

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