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.
- Material is the magazine committed to female-identifying individuals
- From sensuous fruit to mythical quests, Jacques Brun’s photographs are a masterclass in lighting
- Klas Ernflo’s illustrations for the Moderna Museet restaurant are a treasure hunt around the gallery’s collection
- In Search of Frankenstein by Chloe Dewe Mathews embodies Mary Shelley's "nightmarish vision" 200 years on
- "Excitement, change and hope": a poster workshop in a Camden basement from 1968 to 1971
- Designer Marc Armand on reimagining the French football team’s jerseys ahead of the World Cup
- The Scouts rebrand aims to reflect a “more relevant image of Scouting”
- Benedikt Luft's identity for Lazy represents the joyful nature of a drunken outdoor party
- Bonjour Garçon combines photography and graphic design to make "strong and delicate" work
- Custom Typefaces: are they worth the hype?
- From being bad to burping glitter: things we learned at The Adobe 99U Conference
- Airbnb launches new bespoke font Cereal, designed with Dalton Maag for online and offline fluidity