Obama's official portrait unveiled

The portraits were done by acclaimed African-American artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald.

The National Portrait Gallery on Monday, February 12, 2018, unveiled portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

The portraits were done by acclaimed African-American artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald.


Pretty sharp!” Barack Obama quipped of his portrait, painted by Kehinde Wiley, an artist best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African-Americans. The former president also joked about how he had to negotiate to reduce the number of grey hairs and make his ears look smaller in the painting.

Obama also thanked Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald, who painted his wife, for capturing her “grace, and beauty, and intelligence, and charm and hotness.

Sherald and Wiley are the first African-American artists to create Smithsonian-commissioned portraits of a former president and first lady. And their subjects make history once more, as the first black presidential spouses to be immortalized in the gallery.


The paintings were revealed at the gallery, which is part of the Smithsonian group of museums and has the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside of The White House. The gallery began commissioning portraits of presidents, beginning with George H.W. Bush, in the late 1990s.

Michelle Obama spoke of the personal connection she made with Sherald and the legacy her painting will have for young girls of colour.

As I look at this portrait, I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m humbled, honoured, proud,” she said, “but most of all, I’m so incredibly grateful to all those who came before me in this journey.

Of course, I think about my mommy, Marian Robinson, always putting herself last on her list to make possible,” she said. “I’m also thinking about all of the young people, particularly girls, and girls of colour, who in years ahead will come to this place, and they will look up, and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution.  I know about the impact it’ll have on their lives because I was one of those girls,” she added.

The former president also spoke of a kinship between him and Wiley, both of whom were raised by American mothers and absentee African fathers, he said. Obama said he worked with Wiley largely because his body of work captures unsung African-Americans.

Source: Pulse. Ng