Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

The Obama Portraits and the History of African American Portraiture

The Obama Portraits and the History of African American Portraiture

"I tried to negotiate smaller ears", Mr. Barack Obama said. Earlier this week, we were blessed with the Obamas' portraits and everyone had mixed reactions about how unconventional they looked compared to past presidents.

Before even showing the actual portrait, Kimmel created a meme of his own, super-imposing an image of President Obama skydiving with the words "You're on your own, bitches!" written on the front of his parachute pack.

While it was all fun and games, some people took issue with Michelle Obama's portrait, which was met with confusion and criticism for the seemingly unsimilar appearance.

Sherald pained the former first lady in grayscale which was inspired by black and white pictures of African Americans from back in the day.

Dr. Eugene Gu, a columnist for The Hill, agreed, tweeting: "Michelle Obama is an elegant lady and the portrait looks nice".

In remarks from Smithsonian's Secretary David Skorton, he reiterated the broad goal of portraiture as an art form: "Presidential portraits have a particular power to capture the public imagination, to move people to think about America's leaders and indeed American society itself in new and unexpected ways".

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Both portraits will hang in Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. alongside those of previous American leaders.

"I was blown away by the boldness of Amy's colors", she said. "There has got to be something about them that only I can see", she told The New York Times.

Conservative critic Ed Morrissey of HotAir commented Monday: "Both of the Obamas deserved better than what we saw today, whether they truly enjoyed these or were just trying their best to be gracious about it". There's a lot to see if you let yourself look. So one of them seems grounded while the other is up for grabs, while some of the femininity hidden within the folds of the first lady's dress has magically reappeared in the refulgent floral world of the president's portrait.

While he didn't grow up with his father, Wiley traveled to meet him in Nigeria when he was 20 years old. The greenery takes on the symbolism of his past as he leans forward toward his future. As it is now installed, the former president's troubled, thoughtful gaze is fixed on a large photograph of labor leader and civil rights activist A. Philip Randolph picketing the 1948 Republican Convention with a sign that reads, "If we must die let us die as free men, not Jim Crow slaves".

Close-up of Obama's vein in his official portrait. As it is also the Black History Month, the unveiling of the Obama portraits created a huge buzz online and Netizens couldn't stop praising the portraits for how beautifully it depicted their "favourite" President and First Lady.

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