Nigerian-born Kehinde Wiley paints portrait of Obama + PHOTOs

Barack and Michelle Obama have unveiled eye-catching new portraits of themselves.

The former President and First Lady’s likenesses were revealed at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. on Monday morning.

The artists: Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. AFP photo

Mr. Obama chose Kehinde Wiley for his, and exclaimed, “How about that? That’s pretty sharp,” as he saw his picture for the first time.

The 44th president of the United States then joked: “I tried to negotiate less gray 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.”

Mrs. Obama selected Baltimore-based Amy Sherald for her striking black and white portrait, and said she was “a little overwhelmed, to say the least” at seeing it for the first time.

Her husband also heaped praise on Sherald, telling her: “Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman I love.”

The Obamas’ are the first former POTUS and FLOTUS to commission African-American artists to paint their portraits, making them among the most hotly anticipated pictures in decades.

The Nigerian-born artist, Kehinde Wiley, was born in Los Angeles, California in 1977, according to his biography on Wikipedia.

His father is Yoruba from Nigeria, and his mother is African-American.

As a child, his mother supported his interest in art and enrolled him in after-school art classes. At the age of 12, he spent a short time at an art school in Russia.

“Wiley did not grow up with his father, and at the age of 20, traveled to Nigeria to explore his roots and meet him,” Wiki alleges.

Wiley earned his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 and his MFA from Yale University, School of Art in 2001.

The portraits will be open to public viewing from Tuesday.


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