Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Obamas' portraits inject color into visual timeline of presidents, first ladies

Obamas' portraits inject color into visual timeline of presidents, first ladies

"The widening scandal surrounding former President Barack Obama's official portrait continued to swirl on Tuesday, with shocking allegations the artist included "secret sperm cells" within the painting and once joked about "Killing Whitey" during an interview", the blog says of artist Kehinde Wiley.

The museum holds portraits of all American ex-commanders in chief, but these latest additions stand in stark contrast to the more buttoned-down approach of traditional presidential portraiture.

The post argues that the president's portrait is secretly perverted - and subtly hateful toward white people - on the basis of two sentences from a pair of years-old stories on Wiley's work. These are not your mama's portraits, in other words.

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 Obama portraits unveiled Monday won't be displayed in the White House - they will be on view at the National Portrait Gallery, home to the only other complete collection of presidential portraits.

Ostensibly, the artist is saying that his piece is intended as a reflection on black rage - not as an exhortation for African-American women to decapitate as many white devils as they can. This was a first for the National Portrait Gallery. 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. I can't tell him to do that to himself.

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The paintings - Mr. Obama's by Kehinde Wiley and Mrs. Obama's by Amy Sherald - elicited strong reactions for their striking use of colors and the backgrounds in which the Obamas were set. "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 an positive presidency".

Twitter users are giving the Obamas' new portraits the highest order of social media respect.

Once a United States president's term is finished, it's tradition that their official portraits will be revealed to the public. You take people from everyday life and elevate them to a level of dignity and celebration. Ultimately, the former First Lady chose a look that was almost identical to that from the runway, save for a slightly more covered dress.

Obama also praised Sherald for "so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman that I love". Sherald's painting was an oil-on-linen painting of Michelle Obama.

New York Times art critic Holland Cotter commented that Michelle Obama's portrait face was too far removed from her actual one.

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