NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY: MICHELLE LAVAUGHN ROBINSON OBAMA PORTRAIT BY AMY SHERALD
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. The artworks were revealed in a private ceremony in the museum’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard as part of the Portrait Gallery’s 50th anniversary celebrations. President Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama delivered remarks as did Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton, National Portrait Gallery Director Kim Sajet and artists Wiley and Sherald.
“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,” 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.”
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.
- Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait is featured in the 20th Century Americans gallery on the museum’s first floor.
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama
Born Chicago, Illinois
Michelle Obama remembers growing up on the South Side of Chicago and thinking, “being smart is cooler than anything in the world.” After earning degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, she joined Sidley Austin LLP, where she met Barack Obama in 1989. Guided by the desire to improve her community, she left the firm in the mid-1990s to begin a career in public service. She directed community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center prior to moving to Washington in 2009.
During her husband’s two presidential campaigns, Mrs. Obama delivered poignant speeches that cen-tered on her family’s commitment to serving others and highlighted the importance of her role as a parent. As first lady, she focused on women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, children’s health, and military families.
Mrs. Obama selected Amy Sherald, winner of the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, to create her official portrait for the museum. The Baltimore-based artist considers the former first lady to be someone “women can relate to—no matter what shape, size, race, or color. . . . We see our best selves in her.” Here, she portrays Mrs. Obama as both confident and approachable, in a dress by Michelle Smith’s label Milly.
Amy Sherald (born 1973)
Oil on linen, 2018
TEXT: Courtesy of http://www.npg.si.edu
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