Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Presidential Portrait

Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to Paint Portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama

Wiley, a Los Angeles native, is world-renowned for his portraits of young black men adorned in the latest in hip-hop street style.

Former US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle have selected two black artists to paint their official portrait for the Smithsonian museum's National Portrait Gallery.

Artist Kehinde Wiley, who is known for his large, vibrant paintings of African Americans, will paint President Barack Obama.

A Baltimore-based artist has been chosen by Michelle Obama to paint a portrait of the former first lady. Yesterday, Obama made it known that he wanted Kehinde Wiley to paint his official portrait.

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The two paintings will be unveiled in early 2018 and added to the museum's permanent collection of presidential and first lady portraits. "We'll see where that goes". Sherald was awarded the National Portrait Gallery's prestigious Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, making her the first woman to win.

This will mark the first time that black artists were hired by the Smithsonian to create a portrait of a former president since they started commissioning portraits in 1994, though the White House did commission a black Alabaman artist, Simmie Knox, to paint the Clintons in 2000. "Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century".

The Portrait Gallery says it is still raising private funds to pay for the commissioned portraits and the associated unveiling event, educational programs, and enhanced website. In addition to the $25,000 grand prize and the opportunity to create a portrait for the gallery's permanent collection, Sherald's painting, Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance), is now part of a nationwide museum tour.

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