Painting History

March 23, 2018
POWER POSE Kehinde Wiley (left) and former president Barack Obama shake hands at the unveiling of Obama’s official portrait.
MARK WILSON—GETTY IMAGES

President Barack Obama left office in January 2017. Before he did, he chose artist Kehinde Wiley to paint his official portrait. First Lady Michelle Obama picked Amy Sherald to paint hers.

Wiley and Sherald made history. They are the first African-American artists picked to paint official presidential portraits. The portraits were unveiled on February 12. They hang at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The Washington, D.C., museum has a full collection of presidential portraits.

Wiley said, “Being the first African-American painter to paint the first African-American president: It doesn’t get any better than that.”