World

The World Reacts to the Obama Portraits

The World Reacts to the Obama Portraits

The result is a work that embraces Obama's own personal story. Given the historical context and how Wiley recreated it in his works, is hard to interpret his use of this theme as anything other than a blatant statement of racism; black women are the powerful angels of the earth, conquering the white devils.

Wiley, an established artist whose work is held by prominent museums worldwide, has produced a characteristically flat, nearly polished surface, with intensely rich colors and a busy, sumptuous background that recalls his interest in portraiture. Her skin is painted grey, a signature style by Sherald, who does it in order to take away the assigned color of her subjects. After all, they weren't painted together or by the same artist. President George W. Bush had his official White House portrait unveiling in May 2012 - late in President Obama's first term.

The Wiley portrait of Obama can be seen left, and, at first, it resembles an awkward photoshop.

Much of the criticism focused on that Michelle's looks little or nothing like her and does not represent the image of inner strength projected by the former lady, although the artist faithfully captured her turned arms. As the painting was unveiled Monday, Obama said, "How about that?" "I knew I wanted something that was colorful, something that had a bold kind of pattern on it".

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"He would take extraordinary care and precision and vision in recognizing the beauty and the grace and the dignity of people who are so often invisible in our lives and put them on a grand stage, on a grand scale, and force us to look and see them in ways that so often they were not", Obama said.

"The ability to be the first African-American painter to paint the first African-American president of the United States was absolutely overwhelming", said an emotional Mr Wiley. "I just flipped out in the middle of the store", Smith said. "They exist in a place of the past, the present and the future", she says. A seatmate snapped, "They said 'We miss you,' what do you think they'd say?" Here the former president invited Wiley to speak. Wiley uses "street casting" to find his models - walking city streets and asking ordinary people if they would pose for a portrait.

Long after Obama's presidency, his administration will be remembered through historic media such as those displayed at Smithsonian's gallery. He mentioned his adrenaline rush, explained the symbolic system of flowers in the portrait's verdure, and sat down. As it is now installed, the former president's troubled, thoughtful gaze is fixed on a large photograph of labor leader and civil rights activist A. Philip Randolph picketing the 1948 Republican Convention with a sign that reads, "If we must die let us die as free men, not Jim Crow slaves".

On Instagram Michelle proudly posted Sherald's portrait and wrote, "As a young girl, even in my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined this moment".


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