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The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled its commissioned portraits of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Monday. Barack Obama image, painted by artist Kehinde Wiley, shows him seated in front of an ivy backdrop, while Michelle Obama was painted by Amy Sherald in a pale blue setting. Wiley and Sherald were the first black artists commissioned to paint a presidential couple for the Smithsonian.

“Kehinde was working at a disadvantage,” the 44th U.S. president joked at the ceremony. “His subject was less becoming. Not as fly.”

“I tried to negotiate less gray hair, but Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow it,” he added. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears —  struck out on that again as well.”

Official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama were unveiled Monday. (Barack by Kehinde Wiley; Michelle by Amy Sherald; images courtesy the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery)

Obama said Wiley initially wanted to portray him with “scepters” and “chifforobes” — possibly even mount him on a horse.

“I had to explain that I’ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon,” he said. “We’ve got to bring it down just a touch.”

Michelle Obama had nothing but praise for Sherald’s process.

“I was blown away by the boldness of Amy’s colors,” she said. “In the first few seconds of our conversation, I knew she was the one for me.”

On Twitter, reactions to the portraits quickly poured in — with a mixture of admiration and mockery.

Obama, who has been critical of some of President Trump’s policies and comments, did not mention his successor in his speech — though he seemed to make a veiled reference to the current scandal engulfing the White House.

“We miss you guys,” Obama said, turning to some of his former aides in attendance. “We miss the way those who worked with us on this incredible journey carried yourselves.”

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.

Another portrait of President Obama will eventually be unveiled at the White House, though likely not for a few years. President George W. Bush had his official White House portrait unveiling in May 2012 — late in President Obama’s first term.

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The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled its commissioned portraits of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Monday. Barack Obama image, painted by artist Kehinde Wiley, shows him seated in front of an ivy backdrop, while Michelle Obama was painted by Amy Sherald in a pale blue setting. Wiley and Sherald were the first black artists commissioned to paint a presidential couple for the Smithsonian.

“Kehinde was working at a disadvantage,” the 44th U.S. president joked at the ceremony. “His subject was less becoming. Not as fly.”

“I tried to negotiate less gray hair, but Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow it,” he added. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears —  struck out on that again as well.”

Official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama were unveiled Monday. (Barack by Kehinde Wiley; Michelle by Amy Sherald; images courtesy the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery)

Obama said Wiley initially wanted to portray him with “scepters” and “chifforobes” — possibly even mount him on a horse.

“I had to explain that I’ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon,” he said. “We’ve got to bring it down just a touch.”

Michelle Obama had nothing but praise for Sherald’s process.

“I was blown away by the boldness of Amy’s colors,” she said. “In the first few seconds of our conversation, I knew she was the one for me.”

On Twitter, reactions to the portraits quickly poured in — with a mixture of admiration and mockery.

Obama, who has been critical of some of President Trump’s policies and comments, did not mention his successor in his speech — though he seemed to make a veiled reference to the current scandal engulfing the White House.

“We miss you guys,” Obama said, turning to some of his former aides in attendance. “We miss the way those who worked with us on this incredible journey carried yourselves.”

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.

Another portrait of President Obama will eventually be unveiled at the White House, though likely not for a few years. President George W. Bush had his official White House portrait unveiling in May 2012 — late in President Obama’s first term.

Read more from Yahoo News:

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The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled its commissioned portraits of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Monday. Barack Obama image, painted by artist Kehinde Wiley, shows him seated in front of an ivy backdrop, while Michelle Obama was painted by Amy Sherald in a pale blue setting. Wiley and Sherald were the first black artists commissioned to paint a presidential couple for the Smithsonian.

“Kehinde was working at a disadvantage,” the 44th U.S. president joked at the ceremony. “His subject was less becoming. Not as fly.”

“I tried to negotiate less gray hair, but Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow it,” he added. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears —  struck out on that again as well.”

Official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama were unveiled Monday. (Barack by Kehinde Wiley; Michelle by Amy Sherald; images courtesy the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery)

Obama said Wiley initially wanted to portray him with “scepters” and “chifforobes” — possibly even mount him on a horse.

“I had to explain that I’ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon,” he said. “We’ve got to bring it down just a touch.”

Michelle Obama had nothing but praise for Sherald’s process.

“I was blown away by the boldness of Amy’s colors,” she said. “In the first few seconds of our conversation, I knew she was the one for me.”

On Twitter, reactions to the portraits quickly poured in — with a mixture of admiration and mockery.

Obama, who has been critical of some of President Trump’s policies and comments, did not mention his successor in his speech — though he seemed to make a veiled reference to the current scandal engulfing the White House.

“We miss you guys,” Obama said, turning to some of his former aides in attendance. “We miss the way those who worked with us on this incredible journey carried yourselves.”

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.

Another portrait of President Obama will eventually be unveiled at the White House, though likely not for a few years. President George W. Bush had his official White House portrait unveiling in May 2012 — late in President Obama’s first term.

Read more from Yahoo News:

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Obamas reveal unconventional portraits in Washington

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama stand next to their newly unveiled portraits during a ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, on February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. The portraits were commissioned by the Gallery, for Kehinde Wiley to create President Obama’s portrait, and Amy Sherald that of Michelle Obama. AFP

WASHINGTON, United States — Former US first couple Barack and Michelle Obama unveiled their portraits at Washington’s National Gallery Monday, two contrasting works by African American artists that shocked and delighted.

The paintings by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, were revealed at a star-studded event that is a rite of passage for most former American presidents.

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.

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Both show their subjects — America’s first black presidential couple — looking cool and confident, a stark contrast to the bubbling swamp of anger and braggadocio that is political Washington today.

Wiley painted the ex-president against a signature lush botanical backdrop.

Obama, in a serious seated pose at the edge of a wooden chair, is enmeshed in a thicket of leaves and flowers that recall the tropical hues of the 44th president’s home state of Hawaii.

“How about that? That’s pretty sharp,” Obama joked, as he thanked staff and friends in attendance.

The internet quickly got busy making jokes about him being stuck in a bush.

‘Charm and hotness’

Obama also praised Sherald for “so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman that I love.”

The Baltimore-based artist rendered Michelle Obama in her trademark grayscale, with only a few splashes of coral, pink and yellow, against an eggshell blue backdrop.

The resulting image makes the subject’s race almost an afterthought.

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Obama’s dress — true to form for a first lady whose wardrobe was often the focus of attention — dominates the frame.

As in Sherald’s previous paintings of African American subjects, Michelle Obama appears poised and powerful as she looks down on the viewer.

Obama’s portrait will be hung alongside those of former presidents, including the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart.

Michelle Obama’s likeness will hang at the gallery until November this year.

The official portraits of the Obamas, which will be displayed the White House, have not yet been commissioned. /cbb

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[PHOTOS] Nigerian-born Kehinde Wiley paints portrait of Obama

Barack and Michelle Obama have unveiled eye-catching new portraits of themselves.

The former President and First Lady’s likenesses were revealed at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. on Monday morning.

The artists: Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. AFP photo

Mr. Obama chose Kehinde Wiley for his, and exclaimed, “How about that? That’s pretty sharp,” as he saw his picture for the first time.

The 44th president of the United States then joked: “I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow (him) to do what I asked.

“I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well.”

Mrs. Obama selected Baltimore-based Amy Sherald for her striking black and white portrait, and said she was “a little overwhelmed, to say the least” at seeing it for the first time.

Her husband also heaped praise on Sherald, telling her: “Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman I love.”

The Obamas’ are the first former POTUS and FLOTUS to commission African-American artists to paint their portraits, making them among the most hotly anticipated pictures in decades.

The Nigerian-born artist, Kehinde Wiley, was born in Los Angeles, California in 1977, according to his biography on Wikipedia.

His father is Yoruba from Nigeria, and his mother is African-American.

As a child, his mother supported his interest in art and enrolled him in after-school art classes. At the age of 12, he spent a short time at an art school in Russia.

“Wiley did not grow up with his father, and at the age of 20, traveled to Nigeria to explore his roots and meet him,” Wiki alleges.

Wiley earned his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 and his MFA from Yale University, School of Art in 2001.

The portraits will be open to public viewing from Tuesday.

(Metro)

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‘Pretty sharp!’ Obama says, revealing his portrait

WASHINGTON — The National Portrait Gallery on Monday unveiled portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, both of whom selected acclaimed African-American artists to portray them.

Pretty sharp!” Barack Obama quipped of his portrait, painted by Kehinde Wiley — an artist best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African-Americans. The former president also joked about how he had to negotiate to reduce the number of grays hairs and make his ears look smaller in the painting.

Obama also thanked Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald, who painted his wife, for capturing her “grace, and beauty, and intelligence, and charm and hotness.”

Sherald and Wiley are the first African-American artists to create Smithsonian-commissioned portraits of a former president and first lady. And their subjects make history once more, as the first black presidential spouses to be immortalized in the gallery.

“The ability to be first African-American painter to paint the first African-American president … it doesn’t get any better than that,” Wiley said during his remarks.

Both artists tackle race and identity in their work and wanted to bring a different interpretation of presidential portraits, according to The Smithsonian Magazine. Sherald was the winner of the Portrait Gallery’s 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

Image: Obama unveils his portrait alongside artist, Kehinde Wiley Image: Obama unveils his portrait alongside artist, Kehinde Wiley

Former President Barack Obama unveils his portrait alongside artist, Kehinde Wiley, at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington on Feb. 12. Saul Loeb / AFP – Getty Images

The paintings were revealed at the gallery, which is part of the Smithsonian group of museums and has the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside of The White House. The gallery began commissioning portraits of presidents, beginning with George H.W. Bush, in the late 1990s.

Michelle Obama spoke of the personal connection she made with Sherald and the legacy her painting will have for young girls of color.

“As I look at this portrait, I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m humbled, honored, proud,” she said, “but most of all, I’m so incredibly grateful to all those who came before me in this journey.”

“Of course, I think about my mommy, Marian Robinson, always putting herself last on her list to make possible,” she said. “I’m also thinking about all of the young people, particularly girls, and girls of color, who in years ahead will come to this place, and they will look up, and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution.”

“I know about the impact it’ll have on their lives, because I was one of those girls,” she added.

The portraits were praised on social media, with director Ava DuVernay saying they “remind me to hope.” Others tweeted about how the portraits defy stereotypes.

The former president also spoke of a kinship between him and Wiley, both of whom were raised by American mothers and absentee African fathers, he said. Obama said he worked with Wiley largely because his body of work captures unsung African-Americans.

Image: The Obamas sit together at the unveiling of their portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington Image: The Obamas sit together at the unveiling of their portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

Former President Barack Obama sits with former first lady Michelle Obama at the the unveiling of their portraits at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington on Feb. 12, 2018. Jim Bourg / Reuters

“But, what I was always struck by whenever I saw his portraits, was the degree to which they challenged our conventional views of power, wealth, privilege and the way that he would take extraordinary care and precision and vision in recognizing the beauty and the grace and the dignity of people who are so often invisible in our lives, and put them on a grand stage,” he said. “The people in our families, people who built this country, built this capital, served food, took out the garbage.”

“Kehinde lifted them up, and gave them a platform, and said they belonged at the center of American life,” he added. “And, that was something that moved me deeply because, in my small way, that’s part of what I believe politics should be about: is not simply celebrating the high and the mighty, and expecting that the country unfolds from the top-down, but that it comes from the bottom-up.”

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Barack and Michelle Obama portraits unveiled in Washington

Portraits depicting former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington on Monday.

Barack Obama’s portrait was painted by New York-based artist Kehinde Wiley, who is known for his large-scale, old-master style paintings of African Americans. Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald was commissioned to paint Michelle’s portrait.

Sherald and Wiley are the first black artists to be commissioned by the Smithsonian to paint a president or first lady. Prior to their portraits, only one other African-American artist had ever painted a presidential portrait.

Read moreBarack Obama’s record is a legacy under threat

Symbolic flowers in Obama portrait

In his life-sized portrait, Obama is portrayed seated on a wooden chair, surrounded by lush greenery dotted with bursts of flowers.

The flowers symbolize important influences in the former president’s life: jasmine for his home state of Hawaii, African blue lilies for his late father, and chrysanthemums for Chicago, the city where he kick-started his political career.

“I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow him to do what I asked,” Obama joked at the ceremony. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears — struck out on that as well.”

He said it was a “joy” to work with Wiley and described the artist’s work as taking ordinary people and lifting them up by painting them in grandiose settings.

“In my small way I believe that is what politics should be about,” Obama said. “Not simply celebrating the high and the mighty.”

Read moreDream team Barack and Michelle Obama seal landmark book deal

Former First Lady Michelle Obama's official portrait at the National Portrait Gallery (picture-alliance/ABACA/D. Olivier)

Michelle Obama was depicted in gray, black and white tones with pops of color

Michelle hopes portrait will inspire girls

Michelle’s portrait depicts the former first lady in tones of white, black and gray on a blue background. The only touches of color are at the bottom, in the red, yellow and pink on her gown’s hem.

The former first lady said she hopes the portrait will help inspire young girls of color in the years to come.

“They will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them, hanging on the wall of this great American institution,” she said. “I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls.”

Barack Obama praised Sherald for capturing the “grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman that I love.”

The National Portrait Gallery’s tradition of commissioning presidential portraits is relatively new, beginning with former President George H.W. Bush. The other portraits in its collection were either purchased or given as gifts.

Artist Simmie Lee Knox became the first African-American ever to be commissioned to paint a presidential portrait, when he painted former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton’s official White House portraits which are separate from those which hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

rs/kms (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled its commissioned portraits of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Monday. Barack Obama was painted by artist Kehinde Wiley, seated in front of an ivy backdrop, while Michelle Obama was painted by Amy Sherald in a pale blue setting. Wiley and Sherald were the first black artists commissioned to paint a presidential couple for the Smithsonian.

“Kehinde was working at a disadvantage,” the 44th U.S. president joked at the ceremony. “His subject was less becoming. Not as fly.”

“I tried to negotiate less gray hair, but Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow it,” he added. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears, struck out on that again as well.”

Official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama were unveiled Monday. (Barack by Kehinde Wiley; Michelle by Amy Sherald; images courtesy the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery)

Obama said Wiley initially wanted to portray him with scepters and chifforobes — possibly even mount him on a horse.

“I had to explain that I’ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon,” he said. “We’ve got to bring it down just a touch.”

Michelle Obama had nothing but praise for Sherald’s process.

“I was blown away by the boldness of Amy’s colors,” she said. “In the first few seconds of our conversation, I knew she was the one for me.”

On Twitter, reactions to the portraits quickly poured in — with a mixture of admiration and mockery.

Obama, who has been critical of some of President Trump’s policies and comments, did not mention his successor in his speech — though he seemed to make a veiled reference at the current scandal engulfing the White House.

“We miss you guys,” Obama said, turning to some of his former aides in attendance. “We miss the way those who worked with us on this incredible journey carried yourselves.”

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.

Another portrait of President Obama will eventually be unveiled at the White House, though likely not for a few years. President George W. Bush had his official White House portrait unveiling in May 2012 — late in President Obama’s first term.

Read more from Yahoo News:

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Barack and Michelle Obama’s official portraits have just been unveiled and they’re not what people expected

Former President Barack Obama and his first lady Michelle unveiled their official Presidential portraits today, at the US National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Presidents usually commission an oil painting once their term in office has finished.

And their successors often display portraits of former Presidents whom they admire in the oval office. Donald Trump hangs the portrait of populist President Andrew Jackson to the left of his desk in the oval.

President Obama’s portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley, who is known for vibrant, large-scale paintings of African Americans.

(Image: AFP)
(Image: REUTERS)

True to form, it portrays the former President sitting on a chair, leaning forward with his arms crossed, surrounded by verdant plants.

Michelle Obama’s painting is by Baltimore artist Amy Sherald.

She’s shown, again, sitting forward with her chin resting on her hand, in a full length dress.

(Image: REUTERS)

The dress she’s shown wearing is by US designer Milly by Michelle, a brand loved by Beyonce and Solange Knowles.

After the painting was unveiled, Michelle said: “Let’s just start by saying, ‘wow.’ I am a little overwhelmed to say the least.”

Wiley is the first African-American artist ever chosen to paint an official Presidential portrait.

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The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled its commissioned portraits of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Monday. Barack Obama was painted by artist Kehinde Wiley, seated in front of an ivy backdrop, while Michelle Obama was painted by Amy Sherald in a pale blue setting. Wiley and Sherald were the first black artists commissioned to paint a presidential couple for the Smithsonian.

“Kehinde was working at a disadvantage,” the 44th U.S. president joked at the ceremony. “His subject was less becoming. Not as fly.”

“I tried to negotiate less gray hair, but Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow it,” he added. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears, struck out on that again as well.”

Official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama were unveiled Monday. (Barack by Kehinde Wiley; Michelle by Amy Sherald; images courtesy the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery)

Obama said Wiley initially wanted to portray him with scepters and chifforobes — possibly even mount him on a horse.

“I had to explain that I’ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon,” he said. “We’ve got to bring it down just a touch.”

Michelle Obama had nothing but praise for Sherald’s process.

“I was blown away by the boldness of Amy’s colors,” she said. “In the first few seconds of our conversation, I knew she was the one for me.”

On Twitter, reactions to the portraits quickly poured in — with a mixture of admiration and mockery.

Obama, who has been critical of some of President Trump’s policies and comments, did not mention his successor in his speech — though he seemed to make a veiled reference at the current scandal engulfing the White House.

“We miss you guys,” Obama said, turning to some of his former aides in attendance. “We miss the way those who worked with us on this incredible journey carried yourselves.”

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.

Another portrait of President Obama will eventually be unveiled at the White House, though likely not for a few years. President George W. Bush had his official White House portrait unveiling in May 2012 — late in President Obama’s first term.

Read more from Yahoo News:

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