The official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama have been unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Obama’s portrait was painted by New York-based, Yale University-trained artist Kehinde Wiley, whose past subjects include Notorious B.I.G and Grandmaster Flash. Michelle’s painting was executed by Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald, who was the first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
During the reveal, Obama joked: “I tried to negotiate less grey hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow (him) to do what I asked. I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well.” He went on to add: “What I was always struck by when I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our ideas of power and privilege.”
Michelle Obama said she “was a little overwhelmed, to say the least,” after her portrait was unveiled. “Let’s just start by saying, ‘Wow,’ again,” she said. Pointing to her mother, seated in the audience, she added: “Hi Mom. Whatcha’ think? Pretty nice, isn’t it?”