Barack Obama’s bold new portrait by Kehinde Wiley, unveiled to the public Monday, takes the art of presidential portraits into the new millennium.
With Barack’s portrait by Kehinde Wiley, they are the first-ever White House portraits of Presidents and First Ladies to be created by African-American artists.
The dress has caused a stir not simply because it will be enshrined in history but also because it has such a central place in such a non-traditional portrait by artist Amy Sherald of a singular first lady. Speaking at the portrait’s unveiling, the painter said that the shapes reminded her of Gee’s Bend, which is an all-black community in Alabama that’s known for its quilts.
“[It’s] sort of a play on the “kill whitey” thing,” he told New York Magazine about the artwork.
In contrast to the blunt literalism of those who prefer to interpret these paintings as a celebration of racial violence, art critic Walter Robinson writes that Wiley’s take on Judith and Holofernes “suggests, with a jovial brutality, that Judith would prefer to be done with white standards of beauty”.
Wiley said of the work: “I am painting women in order to come to terms with the depictions of gender within the context of art history”. I hope it inspires them to look at Michelle Obama and see all that she achieved.
The post goes on to say that “industry insiders” allege that Wiley’s “trademark technique” is the insertion of “sperm within his paintings”.
It’s one of the questions Obama asked him when they met.
I admire the statement the Obamas made by choosing Wiley and Sherald.
While they were interviewing artists for the portraits, she knew immediately that Sherald, 44, was the one. “I paint as a way of looking for myself in the world”. Jasmine was added to pay homage to the former president’s Hawaiian roots, along with African blue lilies as a tribute to his late father’s Kenyan heritage.
For his portrait by Mr. Wiley, Mr. Barack Obama is depicted sitting in a brown chair with a backdrop of bright green leaves and colourful flowers.
Dr. Eugene Gu, a columnist for The Hill, agreed, tweeting: “Michelle Obama is an elegant lady and the portrait looks nice”.
Like any work of art, people will bring their own unique perspective to these paintings. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears – struck out on that again as well”. “And so she sits symbolically in the world in the same way I want my images to sit”. “The modern silhouette of the dress perfectly reflects her forward-thinking sensibility, and I’m thrilled that I get to be a little part of what was such a ground-breaking and positive presidency”. “It’s not really a representation of her”. Sherald was attracted by the large, geometric patterns of the fabric, which recalls the style of Mondrian. She said she thought about the impact it would have on “girls and girls of color”.
Once a USA president’s term is finished, it’s tradition that their official portraits will be revealed to the public. “These works upend the notion that there are worlds where African Americans belong and worlds where we don’t”. But quite frankly, she looks more like Kerry Washington than Mrs. O.