At the end of each presidency, the Smithsonian partners with the White House to commission official portraits of both the President and the First Lady. Two sets of the portraits are then printed: one for the White House and another for the National Portrait Gallery.
This week, the Obamas announced who they have selected to paint their individual portraits. Michelle Obama has chosen Baltimore artist Amy Sherald. Meanwhile, former President Barack Obama has selected Los Angeles native and openly gay artist Kehinde Wiley.
The Smithsonian announced the exciting news in a press release this week. According to the museum:
Over the course of his career, Wiley (b. Los Angeles, 1977), whom President Obama selected, has frequently portrayed young African American men wearing the latest in hip-hop street fashion. His rich, highly saturated color palette and his use of decorative patterns complement his realistic, yet expressive, likenesses. The theatrical poses and props Wiley assigns to his subjects make references to iconic portraits of powerful figures by Western artists.
Sounds like the perfect choice to paint the portrait of the United States’ first Black president!
Some of the cultural figures Wiley has painted over the years include the Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, and Michael Jackson.
The Portrait Gallery is currently raising funds for the portraits, which will be unveiled in early 2018.
Check out more of Wiley’s incredible work…
Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic Phoenix Art Museum October 7, 2016 – January 8, 2017 The Phoenix Art Museum is pleased to present Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, showcasing the powerful and poignant work of one of America's leading contemporary artists. Composed of approximately 60 works, including paintings, sculptures, videos, and stained glass windows, the exhibition provides an overview of Wiley's prolific 15-year career, prominently featuring his signature figurative canvases of black men and women in which he ingeniously reworks the grand portraiture traditions of Western culture. A fully illustrated catalogue published by the Brooklyn Museum and DelMonico Books/Prestel accompanies the exhibition. Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and Eugenie Tsai, the John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum. For additional information, please visit www.phxart.org #kehindewiley @double_d_production @riccardotisci17