On view through March 20
The Obama Portraits Tour, organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, presents the celebrated portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama by contemporary artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald.
The paintings by Wiley and Sherald became a phenomenon after they were unveiled in February 2018, in part because they departed from the formality of conventional presidential portraiture while speaking to the universal values of inclusion and diversity. They also reflected a presidency filled with numerous firsts. Not only were the Obamas the first African American family in the White House, but they were also the first president and first lady of the social media age, and their interest in contemporary art among their predecessors was unprecedented.
The exhibition will also feature a seven-minute documentary on the commissioning process and the making of the portraits. The National Portrait Gallery began commissioning presidential portraits in 1994, with George H. W. Bush, and commissioned its first portrait of a first lady in 2006, with Hillary Rodham Clinton.