The official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama have been unveiled today (12 February) at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Obama’s portrait was painted by New York-based, Yale University-trained artist Kehinde Wiley, whose past subjects include Notorious B.I.G and Grandmaster Flash. Michelle’s painting was executed by Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald, who was the first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
The two artists are the first African-Americans to have carried out presidential portraits. Kehinde is best known for portraying people of colour wearing wreaths and riding on horses in the style of the Old Master paintings. Amy tends to work with bold colours that contrasts the grey hues she uses to paint the skin of her African-American subjects. Both artists, explore and emphasise issues surrounding social justice and are noted for challenging racial preconceptions and prejudices.
During the reveal, Obama joked: “I tried to negotiate less grey hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow (him) to do what I asked. I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well.” He went on to add: “What I was always struck by when I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our ideas of power and privilege.” The two paintings will be exhibited at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery as of tomorrow, 13 February 2018.
- Chris Brooks has spent a decade rediscovering his family's 100-year-old printing press
- Spanish artist Ignasi Monreal firmly places classical painting in the now
- Kai Tang on how book design is timeless and therefore “more valuable”
- Tim Schutsky turns snow globes and scuffed-up trainers into scenes worth a second glance
- Champagne Nicko's illustrations feature characters in perpetual party mode
- Pablo Amargo on his simple and humorous illustrations for The New York Times
- Get ready for 230 new emojis to confuse your mum with
- Netflix rolls out brand new ident for all its original material
- David Rothenberg discusses his unique portraits of the passengers of planes
- Photographer Nick Turpin captures cars bathed in the lights of Piccadilly Circus
- Byun Young Geun likens illustration to “looking into a mirror”
- Naranjo-Etxeberria designs an identity aiming to cause impact at first glance