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The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announced on Friday that it  commissioned the museum’s official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Artist Kehinde Wiley is the former president’s choice to paint his portrait, and the former first lady chose Amy Sherald.

Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a statement that she’s “absolutely delighted” with the Obamas’ choices.

“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,” she added.

Quartz reported that Wiley and Sherald will be the first Black artists to paint official presidential portraits for the Smithsonian.

The news outlet noted that Wiley combines Hip-Hop culture with classical motifs in his work. His resume includes portraits of LL Cool J and Ice T in classical European styles.

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According to the Smithsonian, Sherald “challenges stereotypes and probes notions of identity” in her paintings of African American subjects.

The Baltimore Sun said Sherald is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art where she now teaches. According to the newspaper, she’s known for the use of gray skin tones. Sherald is the first African American and first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

The two portraits will be unveiled at the museum in early 2018 and will be added to the Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.

SOURCE:   Quartz, Baltimore Sun


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