Obama Reveals Unconventional Portrait By Nigerian Painter

14 February, 2018, 19:03 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery Unveils Portrait of President Barack Obama

Two portraits in particular, both of them modern takes on the biblical story of Judith beheading Holofernes and featuring elegantly-dressed black women brandishing the severed heads of white women, suddenly turned controversial in the context of Wiley's new role as a presidential portraitist. Michelle Obama's mom Marian Robinson and her brother Craig Robinson were also in attendance.

"It's all relative. I liked his a lot better than I liked hers", noted former Clinton aide Phillipe Reines, also appearing as a guest on "The Ingraham Angle", as the two chatted with host Laura Ingraham.

The art world never agrees on much of anything and there will be significant debate about this image.

"It's a goofy painting", added Ingraham. In aesthetics, if not always in politics, the Obamas presented a bright and lovely contrast to the stately whiteness of the highest office of our country, and the portraits presented Monday by the National Portrait Gallery capture their joint vivacity.

Kennicott: Amy Sherald is a Baltimore-based artist who won the 2016 Outwin Boochever award, a national portraiture competition administered by the National Portrait Gallery.

"The reality of Barack Obama being the president of the United States - quite possibly the most powerful nation in the world - means that the image of power is completely new for an entire generation of not only black American kids, but every population group in this nation", Wiley told BBC in 2008. The first lady, painted against a robin's egg blue background, rests her chin on one hand and stares at the viewer with a curious mix of confidence and vulnerability in a canvas by Amy Sherald. The pattern was also inspired Piet Mondrian's geometric paintings and the quilts created by the women of Gee's Bend in Alabama. The heart transplant survivor brings a careful process to her work.


"He says it's his take on the "kill whitey" thing", said Arroyo, commenting on the above-described paintings. Wiley is a glittering propagandist who catapults the common black man and the occasional black woman into historical environments of rearing equines and colonial fleur-de-lis tapestries.

Sherald's work consists of portraits of everyday African Americans painted with elements of whimsy and surrealism.

Evidence of power is more elusive in Sherald's paintings.

On Twitter, reactions to the portraits quickly poured in - with a mixture of admiration and mockery. They are the final piece of a legacy marked by breaking the mold. They're what set Wiley's and Sherald's works apart from the other presidential portraits, many of which are naturalistic, straight-forward, a little buttoned-up and rendered in browns and grays. What do you think the artists were trying to convey - and do you think they were successful?

The memeification of the portraits happened at lightening speed.

However, beyond the appreciative tweets and crude critiques, it would appear that Mrs. Obama's portrait isn't just a work of art, but a political message reflecting where the USA now stands, one year after the former president's departure and the beginning of President Donald Trump's brazen reign.

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