The National Portrait Gallery a part of the Smithsonian group hosts presidential portraits for all former presidents and the latest to be added are former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The paintings were comissioned by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, making them the first Black artists to create Smithsonian commisioned portraits of a former president and first lady.
Kehinde Wiley, the artist behind Barack Obama’s piece is widely known for his vibrant and colorful paintings of black people. This background made him the perfect choice for this painting which will be cemented in history.
“The ability to be first African-American painter to paint the first African-American president…it doesnt get any better than that” says Wiley about the experience.
Amy Sherald, the artist who painted Michelle Obama’s portrait is also recognized for her work. Sherald has created award winning art and was the first prize winner of the Portrait Gallery’s 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
Both artist signature style captured the hopeful nature of the Obama era. The beautiful paintings were well recieved by many, garnering social media buzz praising the artists interpretation of Barack and Michelle Obama.
The National Portrait Gallery began commisioning POTUS portraits in the late 1990s, begnning with George H.W. Bush and continuing from there. The gallery is the only place outside of The White House that is home to a complete group of presidential portraits.
Watch the full ceremony below.