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Kehinde Wiley to Paint Official Presidential Portrait of Obama

Kehinde Wiley to Paint Official Presidential Portrait of Obama

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery made the announcement yesterday that former president Barack Obama wants Kehinde Wiley to paint his official portrait. Both portraits will be unveiled next year when they are added to the museum's collection.

The Portrait Gallery says it is still raising private funds to pay for the commissioned portraits and the associated unveiling event, educational programs, and enhanced website.

Dressed in modern-day T-shirts and sneakers, baseball caps and tattoos, Wiley's subjects are immortalized in regal poses of kings and saints, rendered against a vibrant, textile backdrop. But fortunately, they chose Kehinde Wiley, a wildly popular artist based in NY, and the lesser known, but still exciting up-and-coming Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald.

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Although he did not grow up with him, Kehinde's father is Nigerian while his mother is African American. His rich, highly saturated color palette and his use of decorative patterns complement his realistic, yet expressive, likenesses. Some of his more notable work includes portraits of The Notorious B.I.G., Michael Jackson, LL Cool J and other music legends.

In a statement on the Gallery's site, National Portrait Gallery director Kim Sajet said, "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". She won the National Portrait Gallery's portrait competition in 2016 for her work that features everyday black women, their skin painted in greyish tones, juxtaposed against bright, vivid backgrounds.

He is believed to be an exciting choice for the presidential portrait.

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