WASHINGTON, D.C. – Monday afternoon Barack and Michelle Obama had their official portraits revealed.
The former first couple’s official portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, a rite of passage for most former presidents, all of whom have their portraits hanging in the museum.
These are perhaps the most anticipated presidential portrait unveilings to date, due in large part to the artists the Obamas selected. The former president chose Kehinde Wiley, a Yale University-trained painter famous for his depiction of African-Americans posed in the style of Old Master paintings, regal, formal and filled with pops of color.
Moments after the big reveal social media blew up with comments for and against the looks of the portraits.
One Twitter user defended the different look of the art and said “Everyone who’s mad about Obama’s portrait just wanted the same painting 43 times. Kehinde Wiley gave you something different and it’s good as heck”
Another said “Too bad the image doesn’t look like Michelle Obama, though…”
So, we want to know…what do you think of the portraits?
“How about that? That’s pretty sharp,” the 44th president said as he took the podium. The portrait depicts him sitting against a backdrop of green foliage.
“I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow (him) to do what I asked,” Obama joked. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well.”
Michelle Obama said she “was a little overwhelmed, to say the least,” after her portrait was unveiled.
Wiley is the first African-American artist to execute an official presidential portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.
The juxtaposition of contemporary urban culture with centuries-old postures and wallpaper-like backgrounds make for bold paintings, of which Obama’s is Wiley’s most famous to date.
Wiley apparently took thousands of photographs of Obama in order to create the portrait, a process different than the typical “sittings” required for most portraits.