Washington, D.C. gets their favorite couple, Michelle & Barack Obama in the National Portrait Gallery. The unveiling event was on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. It felt like homecoming, with many members of the Obama administration and the Obama family including Vice President Joe Biden and Marian Robinson, Mrs. Obama’s mother. Others at the unveiling ceremony included Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw, who were among the donors for the portraits and Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson and Shonda Rhimes.
Obama, USA’s first African-American president, selected Kehinde Wiley; Mrs. Obama picked Amy Sherald. Both artists are known for their painting of African-Americans. “Pretty sharp!” Obama said about this portrait. Obama said Sherald captured the “hotness” of his wife. Barack Obama’s portrait will be part of the permanent “America’s Presidents” exhibition on the second floor.
Kehinde Wiley created the official portrait of the president against a backdrop of lush flowers and not just any flowers. They are “chrysanthemums (the official flower of Chicago), jasmine (symbolic of Hawaii where the president spent most of his childhood) and African blue lilies (alluding to the president’s late Kenyan father).”
Baltimore-based painter Amy Sherald created the portrait of Michelle Obama. Sherald is known for her stylized portraits of African-Americans, and her works appear in museums across the country. Michelle Obama’s portrait will be on view in the museum’s “Recent Acquisitions” hall through early November. By and large the tradition is pretty conservative, and the portraits are mostly done by official portrait painters. These portraits are not just delightful but send out a strong message.