Published: Mon, October 16, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Michelle Obama selects Columbus native to create official portrait

Michelle Obama selects Columbus native to create official portrait

Wiley, one of the nation's most modern portrait artists, is a hip-hop, LGBT-inspired artist whose best work takes contemporary black subjects and place them in massive pieces that imitate stylized portraits of European nobility.

Along with Sherald, Artist Kehinde Wiley was selected by former President Barack Obama to create his portrait.

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. Amy Sherald, first-prize victor of the Portrait Gallery's 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, has been chosen to paint Mrs. Obama. His rich, highly saturated color palette and his use of decorative patterns complement his realistic, yet expressive, likenesses.

The Smithsonian Portrait Gallery (which holds some of Wiley's previous work) announced that former U.S. President Barack Obama has chosen the artist to paint his official presidential portrait. "The theatrical poses and props Wiley assigns to his subjects make references to iconic portraits of powerful figures by Western artists", the Smithsonian said in a press release. Sherald challenges stereotypes and probes notions of identity through her life-size paintings of African Americans.

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The Smithsonian began commissioning the presidential portraits in the 1990s with George H.W. Bush.

The Obamas may no longer be in the White House, but their official portraits are soon to live there forever.

The Obamas' portraits will be revealed in early 2018. They will be paid for their commissioned paintings through private donations.

Sherald is also the first African American and first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

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