National Portrait Gallery Unveils Portraits of Former President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama, On View in the Galleries Beginning Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled its commissioned portraits of former President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively. Before President Obama’s departure from office, he and Mrs. Obama selected Wiley and Sherald to paint their likenesses for the Portrait Gallery’s collection. This is the first time that African American artists have been commissioned for the National Portrait Gallery’s official portraits of a President or First Lady.

“For 50 years, the National Portrait Gallery has told the story of America through the people who have impacted this country’s history and culture,” National Portrait Gallery Director Kim Sajet said. “We are thrilled to present to the nation these remarkable portraits of our 44th president, Barack Obama, and former First Lady, Michelle Obama, painted by two of the country’s most dynamic contemporary artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. As a museum of history and art, we have learned over the past half-century that the best portraiture has the power to bring world leaders into dialogue with everyday Americans. These two paintings fall into that category, and we believe they will serve as an inspiration for generations to come.”

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama by Amy Sherald (b. Columbus, Ga., 1973), oil on linen, 2018. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Label: Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, born 1964. Born Chicago, Illinois

Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley (b. Los Angeles, 1977), oil on canvas, 2018. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © 2018 Kehinde Wiley. Label: Barack Obama, born 1961. Forty-fourth president, 2009–2017. 

Images courtesy National Portrait Gallery.