SPECIAL NOTE: Who am I to judge about the portraits, done by two very well-known American artists! But here is the problem, for me, who is not an artist, though I love collecting original works of art for my own private residence. I saw the portrait of the President…surrounded by leaves and some flowers…to me it was so strange, not the typical elegant portraits of past presidents of the United States. Then suddenly I heard the voice of the artist who did it…and he began to tell a story of what all those leaves are about! And that change the way I now look at the portrait…what if I did not read anything by the person who painted it? That is the problem of any picture or photograph or painting…what if you did not know anything about the why and the how or the what of a picture or painting? For a laymen like me, or anyone else in this world…what if we did not know the ‘meaning’ of the leaves surrounding the president? What if???? Enjoy the official portraits of our President and the First Lady…passion power peace, Steve USA Feb 12
Obama Portrait Draws Comparisons on Social Media
Artist Kehinde Wiley brought a new style to the National Portrait Gallery
By Isabella Bruni
Feb 12, 2018 | NBC San Diego
The National Portrait Gallery revealed the portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama Monday morning, prompting people on social media to draw comparisons of the artwork.
Obama’s portrait shows him sitting on a chair with arms crossed in front of a background of what appears to be a bush or green foliage.
“How about that? That’s pretty sharp,” the 44th president said. He also joked about opting for less gray hair and smaller ears.
The artist, Kehinde Wiley, used leaves to symbolize a prosperous and life-affirming time in office. The flowers behind him hold strong symbolism as well. The chrysanthemums are the official flower of Chicago and represent where Obama began his political career and met his wife. The jasmine represents his childhood home of Hawaii and African blue lilies serve as a touch to his late Kenyan-born father, Barack Obama Sr.
“When you look at this painting, you see a sure and amazing handsome man,” Wiley said. “But you see the botanicals which speak to his story…In a symbolic way, I’m charting his path on earth.”
However, people on social media were reminded of other things when looking at Obama’s new portrait.
The portrait is undoubtedly distinct from portraits created for presidents before Obama. Past portraits captured a relatively serious tone, picturing the man sitting at a desk or standing tall at a mantle. This portrait very much portrays the style of the artist.
Wiley “engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban, black and brown men found throughout the world,” according to his website.
Wiley is a Yale University-trained painter and Brooklyn-based artist most known for his depictions of African Americans posed in a regal style with intense pops of color. He is the first African American to create a presidential portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.
The gallery began commissioning portraits of first ladies in 2006, beginning with former first lady Hillary Clinton, who would go on to become secretary of state under Obama.
Michelle Obama’s portrait was painted by Amy Sherald, a Baltimore-based artist, whose themes tend to touch on social justice. She often paints black skin tones in gray to remove assigned color from subjects. Her portrait for Obama shows the former first lady sitting in a long, color-blocked dress with a light blue background. Some people on social media worried whether the painting was true to the subject.
President Obama’s portrait will be on display in the “American Presidents” exhibit on the gallery’s second floor.
“The ability to be the first African American painter to paint the first African American president of the United States was absolutely overwhelming,” Wiley said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.
Portraits of President Obama and Former First Lady Are Lauded and Ridiculed on the Internet
Inside Edition Staff
February 12, 2018
There was stunned reaction from onlookers as the official portrait of President Obama was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery.
It shows the president seated in front of a wall of leaves and flowers and was was painted by Kehinde Wiley, an artist best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African-Americans.
Wiley said he used paintings of ivy and various flowers from Illinois, Kenya and Hawaii, which the artist says charts the 44th president’s “path on Earth through those plants that weave their way to the foreground.”
The room cheered after Wiley and Obama pulled down the curtain to unveil the portrait.
But there was a mixed reaction to the portrait of Michelle Obama, which was painted by Amy Sherald.
The room applauded again as artist Amy Sherald unveiled her painting of Mrs. Obama.
The former first lady appeared to be impressed, saying, “Let’s just start by saying ‘wow’ again! Let’s just take a minute. It’s amazing. Wow!”
President Obama joked about how old he looks in his portrait.
“I tried to negotiate less grey hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow him to do what I asked,” he joked. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well.”
Social media was flooded with critiques of the art, with one Twitter user comparing the painting of President Obama with Beyoncé’s flowery birth announcement.
Michelle Obama’s portrait drew a much more scathing reaction online.
“Like a sketch by a third grader,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Clearly the artist drew someone else,” another said.
The gray skin tone is a part of Sherald’s signature style.
Inside Edition viewers weighed in on their feelings on the portraits.
In a poll, 53 percent said they liked Michelle Obama’s painting while 47 percent did not.
As for President Obama’s portrait, 75 percent of voters had a favorable opinion, while 25 percent were unimpressed.
President Obama said he loves the painting of his wife.
“I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm — and the hotness — of the woman that I love,” he said.