The Obamas Choose Artist Kehinde Wiley To Paint Their Official Presidential Portrait

Both Obamas' portraits will be unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in 2018, where they will be added to the museum's permanent collection.

Former US President Barack Obama has chosen artist Kehinde Wiley to paint his portrait for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

The nation's first Black president and first lady chose two contemporary Black painters, each renowned for depicting Black subjects with singularity and stateliness, to create their official portraits for the National Portrait Gallery.

His wife, Michelle Obama, selected artist Amy Sherald, who is known for her life-size paintings of African-Americans, to paint her portrait. We definitely can not wait to see the paintings of the Obamas; they're sure to make us miss them even more. He employs distinctive patterns to "complement his realistic, yet expressive, likenesses".

Sherald is famous for her works of African-Americans in challenging stereotypes through life-sized paintings.


After each presidency, the museum work with the White House to commission one official portrait of the president, and another of his spouse.

The portraits at the Chinatown gallery are one of two pairs made for former presidents and first ladies-the other set resides at the White House, which is not as publicly accessible.

Some of the cultural figures Wiley has painted over the years include the Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, and Michael Jackson. His paintings are best described as vibrant and large in scale.

Sherald is also the first African American and first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

  • Gwendolyn Kim