The portraits of the 44th president and first lady were unveiled on February 12 at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, the New York Post reported. Former vice president Joe Biden chatted with VIP guests across the aisle, including one of the National Portrait Gallery's commissioners Randi Levine.
The post argues that the president's portrait is secretly perverted - and subtly hateful toward white people - on the basis of two sentences from a pair of years-old stories on Wiley's work. Although the artists worked independently of each other, and their works aren't meant to be seen side by side (they will reside in different galleries when they go on view), they make a curious pairing.
He quipped that Mr. Wiley, who painted his portrait, was at a disadvantage because his subject was "less becoming".
The man behind Obama's portrait is Kehinde Wiley, an American of Nigerian descent best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African-Americans.
Both show their subjects - America's first black presidential couple - looking cool and confident, a stark contrast to the bubbling swamp of anger and braggadocio that is political Washington today.
The former first lady said she thought about the impact Sherald's art will have on "girls and girls of color".
Kehinde Wiley is well-known for recreating famous paintings, but replacing the featured white person - often a noble or general - with a young black man. Wiley often met the men on the street, brought them into his studio, and had them pick a work to be painted into, the famously left-wing Village Voice reported in March 2015. At 44, Sherald only recently entered the national spotlight in 2016 when she was selected as the victor of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
"I would have been one of those athletes whose heart just stops and no one knows why", Sherald told the magazine.
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Obama said Wiley initially wanted to portray him with "scepters" and "chifforobes" - possibly even mount him on a horse.
"Sherald uses greyscale to paint skin tone in order to take away 'color, ' so her subjects can be seen for their personality and presence", Bennett wrote on Twitter. Plus, how they gave recognition to the black artists who created them. She says African American portraiture by black artists began in earnest during the Harlem Renaissance.
After brief statements explaining how the museum had commissioned the portraits but the Obamas had chosen the artists, and how we need the arts so much in our everyday lives, the Unveilings were underway.
Michelle Obama had nothing but praise for Sherald's process.
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Those unfamiliar with Sherald's other works were struck by her distinct visual style, but the decisions Sherald makes with colors serve a powerful goal and are present throughout her other works.
In an interview with this newspaper, the curator of paintings and sculptures and Latin art in the Gallery, the Puerto Rican Tainan Caragol, said that Wiley is not a "conventional" artist and, therefore, forces the public to have a "new look at this president and his history, which changed the profile of the U.S. presidency".