Barack And Michelle Obama’s Portrait Just Got Revealed: Meet The Brains Behind The Paintings

The official portrait of Barack  and Michelle Obama which was painted by 40 year-old New York based artist, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald respectively was  launched earlier today, February 12 , 2018.

The uniquely colourful portraits of the 44th President of the United States and his queen  were officially unveiled during a ceremony held at the National Portrait Gallery.

Obama’s Portrait [Source: Instagram – @Barackobama]
According to Barack Obama in his announcement on Instagram, these portraits have made both @kehindewiley and @asherald the first black artists to create official presidential portraits for the Smithsonian.

Kehinde Wiley, a Los Angeles born hip-hop portraitist born to a Nigerian father and an African American mother is known for lush, larger-than-life portraits that overlay black street culture with European classical motifs. He was selected by President Barack Obama to paint his official presidential portrait to be displayed in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC last year.

“I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow (him) to do what I asked,” Obama joked. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well.”

Wiley’s previous subjects have included music figures such as the Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Michael Jackson, and more.


The beautiful  official portrait of Michelle Obama was revealed,  and painted by Amy Sherald, a creative and unique American artist.

Ash Sherald
Ash Sherald

Michelle Obama took to her instagram to appreciate Amy Sherald’s great artwork of her.

More About Kehinde Wiley
Born on February 28, 1977, Los Angeles, California, U.S.), Kehinde Wiley is best known for portraits that feature African Americans in the traditional settings of Old Master paintings.
His father is an Ibibio from Akwa Ibom State. Wiley did not grow up with his father, and at the age of 20 traveled to Nigeria to explore his roots and meet him.

Kehinde Wiley Drawing
Kehinde Wiley Drawing

Wiley’s childhood experiences in the South Central neighbourhood of Los Angeles were enriched by his mother’s passion for education. At the age of 11, he took art classes at a conservatory at California State University, and at 12 years old he attended a six-week art program outside Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) sponsored by the Center for U.S./U.S.S.R. Initiatives.

After Wiley graduated from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (1999) at the San Francisco Art Institute and a Master of Fine Arts (2001) at the School of Art at Yale University.
While in residence in 2001 at the Studio Museum in Harlem, he found a discarded New York City Police Department mug shot of a black man, and its blunt presentation inspired his early series Conspicuous Fraud and the video Smile. He followed those with his breakthrough Passing/Posing series (2001–04), in which he replaced the heroes, prophets, and saints of Old Master paintings with young black men who were dressed in trademarked hip-hop attire.
In the series Rumors of War (2005), Wiley displaced heroic equestrians, painted by such court painters as Diego Velázquez and Peter Paul Rubens, with contemporary men in team jerseys and Timberland boots, but he kept the original portraits’ titles. In Down (2008) grand-scale figures simulated the prone postures displayed in such works as Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Dead Christ in the Tomband Auguste Clésinger’s Woman Bitten by a Serpent.

Kehinde Wiley


Kehinde Wiley

Throughout, Wiley relied on random encounters“street casting” to find his models, who went to his studio to select a pose and be photographed. Wiley’s assistants applied the elaborately patterned backgrounds, but Wiley always painted the figure, following the conventional hierarchy of a historic atelier.

The World Stage paintings, launched in Beijing in 2006, took his practice to Nigeria and Senegal (2008), Brazil (2009), India and Sri Lanka (2010), Israel (2011), France (2012), Jamaica (2013), and Haiti (2014). Wiley added women to his repertoire in the 2012 series An Economy of Grace, commissioning costumes from Riccardo Tisci, creative director of the French fashion house Givenchy.

In 2015 Wiley collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum of Art to organize the exhibition “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic,” which charted the course of his 14-year career. In works that questioned the cultural narrative of the Western art canon, Wiley replaced conventional images of white men of historical status with contemporary men of colour who simulated the poses of the original masterworks. Wiley reconceptualized specific paintings by such Old Masters as Titian, Sir Anthony van Dyck, and Édouard Manet with likenesses of black men who figured prominently amid his decorative backgrounds. His impeccably refined technique and ironic yet intellectual interpretation skewed high-art traditions while giving them new significance.
In 2015 Wiley was the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts.

We Celebrate Kehinde Wiley! Keep Up The Good Works

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