The Obamas Choose Artist Kehinde Wiley To Paint Their Official Presidential Portrait
The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery made the announcement yesterday that former president Barack Obama wants Kehinde Wiley to paint his official portrait.
A tradition since the early ‘90s, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery has commissioned artists of a former president’s choosing to paint the official presidential portrait. With our new leader doing such a bad job, it seems that this bit of news about former president Barack Obama is just the good news that the doctor ordered. Yesterday, Obama made it known that he wanted Kehinde Wiley to paint his official portrait.
Arguably, this has been one of the coolest choices in the Smithsonian Gallery’s history.
Wiley, one of the nation’s most modern portrait artists, is a hip-hop, LGBT-inspired artist whose best work takes contemporary black subjects and place them in massive pieces that imitate stylized portraits of European nobility. Not sure if we’ll get Michelle and Barack on bejeweled horses with swag dripping from their pores, but it will be something that will make the art world stand up and pay attention.
In fact, Michelle Obama’s portrait choice is no slouch either. Baltimore-based Amy Sherald paints black subjects in grayscale with brightly colored clothes and backgrounds. More subdued that Wiley, Sherald’s work has won a prestigious prize from the Portrait Gallery just last year, while showing in public collections across the country. Wiley and Sherald are also the first black painters commissioned for presidential portraits by the Smithsonian.
The portraits are scheduled to be unveiled some time in 2018, and we are so ready for that event to take place. Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, and now this — man, 2018 is going to be one of the best and blackest years ever.