For former presidents of the United States, getting their portraits painted and then hung in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery is a rite of passage. Lead the country? Get a portrait! All kidding aside, the official presidential portrait is something that will be memorialized in all of history. But who remembers what a president’s official portrait looks like? We’re willing to bet that you won’t soon forget the presidential portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama that were just unveiled—at least we don’t think so! There are splashes of bright and bold colors, style, and dare we say, personality? But don’t just take our word for it—take a look for yourself:
Did Amy Sherald capture the “grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness … ” of Michelle Obama like Barack Obama said she did?
What else made these paintings even more special? For the first time in US history, African-American artists were chosen to paint the official presidential portraits. Barack Obama chose Kehinde Wiley, a Yale University trained artist who typically paints everyday people and puts them in powerful positions. Wiley engulfed former President Obama in flowers that represented different parts of his life: chrysanthemum for Chicago, jasmine for Hawaii, and African blue lilies for his African heritage. Michelle Obama chose Amy Sherald, an artist based out of Baltimore, Maryland. Former First Lady Michelle Obama said that she hopes her portrait inspires young girls and girls of color, because she was one of those girls.
What do you think of when you look at these portraits?