The New Obama Portraits Definitely Brought Out the Internet's Best Meme Game

Frederick Owens
February 14, 2018

The portraits of former United States President Barrack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama have been unveiled at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery Monday. Amy also wanted to portray a message of humanity: "Michelle Obama being her authentic self became a profound statement that engaged all of us".

Cillizza: Finish this sentence: "The reaction in the art world to the Michelle Obama portrait will be/is _".

Michelle is a great-great-granddaughter of slaves, a fact she always said in her eight years in the White House to demonstrate the hard progress of her ethnic group. "My approach to portraiture is conceptual", she said. It was the picturesque background of Barack Obama's photo. Plus, how they gave recognition to the black artists who created them. This was a first for the National Portrait Gallery. Wiley says the books served as a "menu" of the elements of a portrait.

Sherald does a couple of things that may lessen the sense of verisimilitude. But these portraits will remind future generations how much wish fulfillment was embodied in the Obamas, and how gracefully they bore that burden. His original subjects were often men he'd meet on the street.

Michelle Obama said she hoped the portrait would have an impact on young girls of colour in the years ahead. "Gray makes the paintings work". When asked if that really worked, she said, "Hey, I got my quote". And today we're seeing more and more evidence that the social gains of the civil rights, and Black Power, and Obama eras are, with a vengeance, being rolled back. She's from Chicago. She's well educated. She thanked her ancestors and family, including her mother. She's stylish. She's vibrant.

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That the strong, couture-clad black females in the paintings are depicted in the immediate aftermath of decapitating white women is not incidental. And she's cemented in almost all of our minds as this flawless combination of a powerhouse career woman and a charismatic leading lady. An earlier victor of the same contest that Sherald won in 2016 made his portraits by digitally scanning his subjects as they lay on a table. Curiously, the president's left foot is poised just over a bunch of African blue lilies, as though he's about to crush them.

"T$3 hey're signaling to the rest of the world that it is OK to occupy skin that happens to look like this. on the great walls of museums in the world", he told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. The initial question - "Why doesn't this look like her?" - is enough to keep your attention. Mrs. Obama's face forms the composition's peak, but could be nearly anyone's face, like a model's face in a fashion spread. She's let go of what she couldn't do and is taking stock of what she was able to accomplish. Of course she's posed so you can catch a glimpse of her wedding ring - a reminder of a big reason behind her seemingly eternal relevancy. Milly, as the Washington Post's Robin Givhan notes, is known for sports wear as well. Smith, in an interview with Vogue, has said that the dress's "clean, minimal geometric print" is "without a reference to anything past or nostalgic" and is "forward-thinking", like Obama herself. Obama sits against sky-blue oblivion, the triangular shape of the dress turning her into a mountain. She is someone despite being an Obama. The tenure of the first black First Lady was defined by her no-nonsense charm, her easy beauty, her rhetorical gifts, her championing of healthy meals for the young and the poor. "She's one of my assistants".

Meanwhile, Barack was a superhero for a lot of people in the way that a rapper is to his hometown. Barack is a dope black American king.

"How about that? That's pretty sharp", Mr. Obama said as he saw his picture for the first time.

The Obama portrait fits within the same style. She's with Barack, but she's her own entity.

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