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President and Mrs. Obama Portrait Unveiling

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Visual Arts +1

On February 12, 2018, the official portraits of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were unveiled at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. President Obama's portrait was created by artist Kehinde Wiley, who is known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African Americans posing as famous figures from the history of Western art. This portrait does not include an underlying art historical reference, but some of the flowers in the background carry special meaning for Obama. Mrs. Obama's portrait was created by artist Amy Sherald, who 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.” 

This collection includes the two portraits, in high resolution, so that learners can zoom in and out to carefully observe details. It also includes videos and articles about the portraits and their official unveilings. Additional supports include other works by the two artists and strategies for reading portraits. Portraits of the two sitters and other presidential portraits can be used for compare and contrast activities. 

President Barack Obama

National Portrait Gallery

First Lady Michelle Obama

National Portrait Gallery

Installation of the Obama portraits

National Portrait Gallery

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Ashley Naranjo

Kehinde Wiley, artist interview

National Portrait Gallery

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Ashley Naranjo

Grand Dame Queenie

National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Ashley Naranjo

Reading Portraiture Guide

National Portrait Gallery

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Ashley Naranjo

First Lady Michelle Obama

Catalog of American Portraits

Michelle Obama

National Portrait Gallery

Barack and Michelle Obama, Chicago

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Barack Obama

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Barack Obama

National Portrait Gallery

Barack Obama

National Portrait Gallery

Barack Obama

National Portrait Gallery

Barack Obama

National Portrait Gallery

Barack Obama

National Portrait Gallery