Kehinde Wiley, Barack Obama's portrait artist, painted black girls beheading white girls

15 February, 2018, 02:12 | Author: Eleanor Thompson
  • Getty Image

Barack and Michelle Obama have attended the unveiling of their official portraits at Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

However, the Obamas are an unprecedented couple and they continue to break new ground in terms of representation and whom they entrust to represent them.

Both Obamas chose black artists who've been praised by Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery.

Reflecting to the audience, Michelle Obama admitted to feeling "a little overwhelmed" by occasion.

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"I'm thinking of all the girls of colour who will come and see someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American Institution", said the former U.S. first lady. Mr. Obama, for his part, seemed delighted with the painting, showing him leaning forward intently while seated, suspended in a verdant backdrop of vines and flowers.

To me, I question if the model used for this portrait was actually the former First Lady.

The former president said Mr Wiley was "working at a disadvantage because his subject was less becoming". "How about that? That's pretty sharp", Obama said when the image was revealed.

Wiley is known for depicting modern-day African-American subjects using the tropes of classical European art.

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Several people took to Twitter to counter criticism that Ms Obama's portrait did not look like her.

One can only imagine the outrage, marches and demonstrations (and perhaps riots) that would have occurred had a white racist artist been commissioned to paint the official portrait of first lady Laura Bush.

Former President Obama praised Sherald for her work on his wife's portrait, which he said captured "the grace, intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman I love". This artist beat out 2500 other artists to paint this portrait.

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