Obamas Unveil Official Paintings at National Portrait Gallery

 

Barack and Michelle Obama were on hand at the National Portrait Gallery Monday morning to unveil their official portraits. And, um, here they are:

No, this is not The Onion, but the actual portraits. Barack Obama, apparently being consumed by a hedge, was painted by Kehinde Wiley. Michelle Obama, in the style of a 10th grader in 1984, was painted by Amy Sherald.

What do you think of this … art?

There are 187 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  1. Inactive

    Well I cannot wait to see Barry and Scary in their new Chicago digs.

    He’s in a marijuana forest. She’s an Escher drawing.

    • #1
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:14 am
    • 13 likes
  2. Member

    Well, he has never ending hands. Is that supposed to tell us something ? He also has his legs spread. Looks like he is mansplaining.

    She on the otherhand has her daughters head on her body.

    My 2 cents

    • #2
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:15 am
    • 7 likes
  3. Member

    For eight years we watched their classless, social faux pas as they invited the most deplorable entertainers to their White House dinners. No one should be surprised that their choices of their portraits would show any more discernment. I am so glad to be done with that pair. What a disgrace they were!

    (I have no French training, so if I used Faux Pas as a plural and it isn’t, forgive me.)

    • #3
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:17 am
    • 16 likes
  4. Inactive

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):
    Well, he has never ending hands. Is that supposed to tell us something ? He also has his legs spread. Looks like he is mansplaining.

    She on the otherhand has her daughters head on her body.

    My 2 cents

    Those hands are like walrus flippers.

    • #4
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:17 am
    • 8 likes
  5. Coolidge

    The portraits are perfect.

    A frivolous representation of a frivolous man. Too bad Salvador Dali is not available, he could do an abstract, surrealist portrait.

    • #5
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:18 am
    • 28 likes
  6. Thatcher

    No clenched fists, no dashikis, no Nikes, no rainbow ribbons. Better than anything at MoMA or MOCA.

    Pocket this as better than expected frankly.

    • #6
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:23 am
    • 10 likes
  7. Coolidge

    Let’s not normalize these paintings. Resist! #notmyportraiture

    • #7
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:24 am
    • 20 likes
  8. Thatcher

    Those portraits are no less than they deserve.

    And no more.

    Perfect.

    • #8
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:25 am
    • 7 likes
  9. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    My first thought as they unveiled Barack Obama’s portrait:

    • #9
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:26 am
    • 43 likes
  10. Member

    If only that bush was a Little Shop Of Horrors bush . ;)

    • #10
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:28 am
    • 3 likes
  11. Thatcher

    Now if you want to look at a portrait which embodies something enduring, lively and hopeful about our country:

    • #11
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:30 am
    • 17 likes
  12. Coolidge

    Maybe the former President was going for this:

    • #12
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:32 am
    • 3 likes
  13. Coolidge

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):
    My first thought as they unveiled Barack Obama’s portrait:

    Crap, you beat me to it.

    • #13
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:33 am
    • 5 likes
  14. Member

    I like her painting better. But both are bad, and they are so because the composition is terrible. A good portrait is about the subject. But the strange backgrounds distract from them. Hers is too minimalist, his is at once too simple and too complicated at the same time. Also both of them make them seem removed from reality.

    • #14
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:35 am
    • 11 likes
  15. Member

    I still prefer traditional-style portraiture. I thought it had all changed for the worse, until I saw the Reagan portrait @quakevoter posted. Here’s a painting we have of one of my ancestors from the 1840s or ’50s. It’s dark, over all, but to some extent it just needs professional cleaning. Still, I like the skill with which the face is done, and the sense of maturity to the painting as a whole. It’s the portrait of an adult. It doesn’t look frivolous.

    • #15
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:35 am
    • 9 likes
  16. Moderator

    Amateur hackery paints amateur hackery. Narcissistic high-school self flattering symbolism capturing the subjects’ persistent grasping at making the rest of the nation and world make good on their own feelings of self-importance and transcendence.

    Strangely fitting.

    • #16
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:40 am
    • 16 likes
  17. Coolidge

    Another acceptable portrait – or at least the way many will remember him – could have been on a golf coarse in the typical follow through posse.

    The extent of Mr. Obama’s love of golf has been on display during his winter vacation in Hawaii, where he has played seven out of his 12 days here, for as much as six hours at a time. On one outing, he played so slowly he could get in only 17 holes before it became too dark to continue.

    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/01/obama-golf-slow-president-hawaii

    • #17
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:42 am
    • Like
  18. Member

    These just seem so shallow. But that also seems fitting.

    • #18
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:46 am
    • 4 likes
  19. Inactive

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Barack Obama, apparently being consumed by a hedge, was painted by Kehinde Wiley. Michelle Obama, in the style of a 10th grader in 1984, was painted by Amy Sherald.

    Why am I not surprised.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kehinde_Wiley

    “Kehinde Wiley (born 1977)[1] is a New York City-based portrait painter who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of black people in heroic poses. ”

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Sherald

    “Amy Sherald (born 1973) is an American painter based in Baltimore, Maryland.[1] Her work started out autobiographical in nature, but has taken on a social context ever since she moved to Baltimore.[2]

    She is best known for her portrait paintings that address social justice, as well as her choice of subjects, which are drawn from outside of the art historical narrative. Through her work, she takes a closer look at the way people construct and perform their identities in response to political, social, and cultural expectations.”

    I guess being eaten by a hedge is the most heroic think Barack can do. Got it.

    • #19
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:47 am
    • 10 likes
  20. Inactive

    I am pleased they have the sense to know that they don’t fit in with those who came before.

    • #20
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:47 am
    • 10 likes
  21. Member

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Well I cannot wait to see Barry and Scary in their new Chicago digs.

    He’s in a marijuana forest. She’s an Escher drawing.

    My goodness, it does look like marijuana. :) :)

    • #21
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:48 am
    • 1 like
  22. Moderator

    By eschewing realism for the surreal, they’re obviously attempting at some sort of iconography of themselves – portraits that, instead of portraying any real truth, are attempting to convey spiritual truths about their persons. In his case it’s as some sort of suited modern guru of peace, in hers it’s a shot at claiming a timeless and transcendent elegance or class (what with her infinite dress). Neither are meant to be seen as human, real, of flesh and blood, but instead as semi-divine in his case, and stylized superficial fashion in hers. His is damnably arrogant and fitting of a guy who thinks he really is divine, hers is impersonal but bland, to fade into the pages of old fashion magazines, or be hung above someone’s living room couch.

    • #22
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:48 am
    • 6 likes
  23. Thatcher

    The carefully composed nothingness of her portrait reminded me at once, thankfully, of its counterpart:

    Related image

    • #23
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:49 am
    • 5 likes
  24. Member

    Others have said it first, but I think those are very fitting paintings by very shallow artists of very shallow people.

    The only thing that would have been more appropriate would have been line drawings with crayolas at the bottom so they could be colored in properly.

    • #24
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:51 am
    • 15 likes
  25. Member

    I like both paintings, although hers looks terrible in the dailycaller.com article with less color and appearing more amateur-looking.

    • #25
    • February 12, 2018 at 8:52 am
    • 1 like
  26. Member

    DocJay (View Comment):
    He’s in a marijuana forest.

    Maybe it’s a tribute to getting stuck in Chicago’s Wrigley Field outfield wall.

    If it’s a tribute him skyrocketing my health insurance rates, then it’s Poison Ivy.

    • #26
    • February 12, 2018 at 9:01 am
    • 2 likes
  27. Member

    • #27
    • February 12, 2018 at 9:04 am
    • 29 likes
  28. Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):
    My first thought as they unveiled Barack Obama’s portrait:

    Perfect, except Homer is likable despite all his doh-iness.

    • #28
    • February 12, 2018 at 9:09 am
    • 4 likes
  29. Moderator
    She

    Glory be. Worthy subjects for such talentless paintings.

    I keep staring at the picture of him, waiting for the “3-D Magic Eye” image to appear. Wonder what it’s going to be.

    She looks as if she’s wearing a tent sewn together from old distress signal and semaphore flags.

    • #29
    • February 12, 2018 at 9:13 am
    • 16 likes
  30. Member

    I think we have a consensus, and it was my first thought, too: fitting. They break down all the norms of beauty, truth, and elegance. I couldn’t have come up with a better depiction.

    • #30
    • February 12, 2018 at 9:13 am
    • 11 likes
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7