The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, DC, announced today that artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have been commissioned to paint Barack and Michelle Obama for the institution’s permanent collection. The portraits will be revealed at the museum in early 2018.
“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,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the twenty-first century.”
Wiley, known for his large-scale portraits of young African Americans that reference iconic portraits of prominent figures by Western artists, was selected by Barack to create his likeness. For her portrait, Michelle chose Sherald, whose works often challenge stereotypes and notions of identity.
At the end of each presidency, the National Portrait Gallery partners with the White House to commission two official portraits of the president and his spouse, one for the White House and the other for the museum. The museum began this practice with George H. W. Bush.