Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley for Official Presidential Portrait

Barack and Michelle Obama's portraits commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery

Baltimore artist Amy Sherald to paint Michelle Obama's official portrait

Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have been commissioned to paint former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama's official portraits for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

Kehinde Wiley is best known for his style presenting modern Black artists in grand settings.

"This is something that, as artists, we constantly deal with-throwing away the past, slaying the father, and creating the new".

This makes Wiley and Sherald the first-ever black artists to be hired to paint portraits of a President and First Lady by the Smithsonian.

The paintings are scheduled to be unveiled next year and added to the National Portrait Gallery's popular collection of presidential and first lady portraits. Sherald challenges stereotypes and probes notions of identity through her life-size paintings of African Americans.

Sherald has already made history as the first African American and first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. In addition to the $25,000 grand prize and the opportunity to create a portrait for the gallery's permanent collection, Sherald's painting, Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance), is now part of a nationwide museum tour.

The Portrait Gallery says it is still raising private funds to pay for the commissioned portraits and the associated unveiling event, educational programs, and enhanced website.

This past March, the Portrait Gallery installed a portrait diptych of President Obama by Chuck Close (2013) as part of the temporary "America's Presidents" installation, which was on view until the updated version of the exhibition opened in September.

"I'd love, love, love to do his official presidential portrait".

Latest News