On view January 14–March 20, 2022
The High is proud to participate in The Obama Portraits Tour, featuring the portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. Before their departure from the White House, the former president and first lady selected Wiley and Sherald to paint their portraits from a portfolio of recommendations made by the curators of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The portraits, commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery for its permanent collection, were unveiled at a special ceremony at the Gallery in February 2018. The National Portrait Gallery started commissioning portraits of US presidents in 1994 and of the First Lady in 2006.
Wiley and Sherald (the High’s 2018 Driskell Prize recipient) are the first African American artists to receive commissions for presidential portraits for the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Both began their portraits of the Obamas from life, each taking photographs of their subjects and then referencing those photographs as they worked on their paintings. A richly illustrated book that accompanies the exhibition, The Obama Portraits (2020), reveals the artists’ processes as well as the history of US presidential portraiture.
Exhibition catalogue available for purchase at the Museum Shop and at museumshop.high.org. Members receive 10% off Shop purchases.