The official portrait was unveiled recently at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. and there, Smith said, "I was humbled to be able to create such a special piece for such an intelligent and influential female, who also reflects such confidence, beauty, kindness and compassion".
For 50 years, the official paintings of America's former leaders at the gallery had been composed of white presidents painted by white artists.
The Obama's portraits will hang in the gallery, which has been gathering presidential portraits for 50 years, said David Skorton, the 13th secretary of the Smithsonian. Wiley, who has made portraits of LL Cool J, Michael Jackson and Notorious B.I.G., often skewers the pomp and grandiloquence of historical portraiture, painting his subjects in poses familiar from classic works by Napoleon's propagandist, Jacque-Louis David, or Tiepolo or Peter Paul Rubens (Wiley depicted Jackson on horseback, wearing the armor of a Habsburg king, crowned by angelic flying figures).
"I dressed Mrs. Obama on several occasions while she was in office, and am so grateful to create something that she will forever be remembered in by future generations", said the designer to the Huffington Post. "Barack Obama is the real Black Panther". "Reminds me to hope".
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The painting is shocking because Sherald has somehow conjured a vision of Michelle Obama, one of the most photographed women in history, that we have not yet seen-one free of the candid Washingtonian glamour ...
"You will see hanging on the walls of this great American institution an image of someone who looks like them ... and I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls", said Michelle Obama, daughter on Monday. from a middle class family in South Chicago.
The Portrait Gallery's tradition of commissioning presidential portraits began with President George HW Bush.
A few others noticed similarities between Barack's portrait and Beyoncé's iconic maternity portrait. Flanking their portrait, the former first lady and Sherald revealed the artwork before a thousand phone cams and a livestream.
"Liberal sheep think I should run wild with @nytimes anonymous sources and not confirm myself", he said last month. Although Sherald selected a more subdued palette for her painting, her subject appears no less regal. Sherald may be the portrait artist of "American people", and Obama, looking askance, leaning slightly, may want to be a part of that record, but she is also a symbol, an aggrandizement.
Obama, who has been critical of some of President Trump's policies and comments, did not mention his successor in his speech - though he seemed to make a veiled reference to the current scandal engulfing the White House.