• gerard van weyenbergh

Obama portraits to tour the USA

The portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama, belonging to the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, will travel to five cities in the United States between 2021 and 2022. The inhabitants of Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and Houston will be able to contemplate these portraits that sparked a frenzy when they were presented in 2018.

The success of the portrait of the former president by Kehinde Wiley and that of his wife by Amy Sherald is unprecedented in recent times. It was also the first time that the National Portrait Gallery called on African-American artists to commission such a symbolic dimension.

Other museums benefiting from the tour are the Art Institute of Chicago, where the exhibition will start in June 2021, the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

Kehinde Wiley's painting depicts the former president seated in a navy blue suit and a white shirt. "What always struck me when I looked at his paintings was how they defied our usual view of power and privilege," said Obama about Wiley's work.

The lush background refers to its origins: you can see the African blue lily, a nod to his Kenyan father. The Hawaiian jasmine because he spent part of his childhood. The chrysanthemum is the official symbol of the city Chicago where he was elected senator and met his wife.

Michelle Obama is represented wearing a white dress decorated with colorful patterns, created by the American designer Michelle Smith. The former first lady noted the impact that the canvas could have on young girls of color. They will see an image of someone who looks like them on the walls of this great American institution. And I know the kind of impact it will have on their lives because I was one of those girls. "

The portraits drew a record number of visitors to the National Portrait Gallery, which had to move the portrait of Michelle Obama to a new , larger room. In 2018, the museum welcomed more than two million visitors, double the usual attendance. Le Journal des Arts