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Obama picks Kehinde Wiley to paint official Presidential portrait

18 October 2017

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery announced today that Barack and Michelle Obama have chosen the artists who will paint their official portraits.

Barack and Michelle Obama have officially selected the artists who will be painting their formal portraits for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery - and their choices are both exciting and historical.

Though the museum has not released the specific unveiling date, the portraits will be revealed in early 2018.

Obama's predecessors have preferred to sit for 90-year old portrait artist Everett Raymond Kinstler, who has painted eight United States presidents, but Obama chose to go with Kehinde.

Kehinde Wiley was born in 1977 to a Nigerian father and an African-American mother.

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Kehinde Wiley has been commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute to produce the work for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

His rich, highly saturated colour palette and his use of decorative patterns complement his realistic, yet expressive, likenesses. Some of his more notable work includes portraits of The Notorious B.I.G., Michael Jackson, LL Cool J and other music legends. His paintings are best described as vibrant and large in scale.

Kehinde Wiley, well known for portraits of young black men that incorporate elements of Western art, will paint the former president. She won a National Portrait Gallery portrait prize past year, and has a portrait in the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture titled "Grand Dame Queenie".

This past March, the Portrait Gallery installed a portrait diptych of President Obama by Chuck Close (2013) as part of the temporary "America's Presidents" installation, which was on view until the updated version of the exhibition opened in September.

Obama picks Kehinde Wiley to paint official Presidential portrait