Popular New York-based artist, Kehinde Wiley, has been chosen by former U.S. President, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, to paint their portraits. The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the museum in which the portrait will be placed, announced the President’s pick.
The Smithsonian portrait tradition began with George H. Bush and while those who have come before Obama have been painted by Everett Raymond Kinstler, a 90-year-old painter, Obama and his wife have chosen the younger Kehinde Wiley.
Although he did not grow up with him, Kehinde’s father is Nigerian while his mother is African American. When he turned 20, however, Kehinde took a trip to Nigeria to meet his father and learn about his patriarchal roots.
Wiley’s portrait is iconic and historical because it will be the first time that a black person has been given the job of creating a presidential portrait for the Smithsonian since the first job was commissioned in 1994.
The director of the Smithsonian, Kim Sajet, released a statement about the exciting project, saying, ‘The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former President and First Lady.
‘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 will be ready for display by 2018.
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