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lakeelmoleader.com February 17, 2018


The Real Story Behind Michelle Obama's Milly Portrait Gown

14 February 2018, 07:05 | Kara Nash

Barack and Michelle Obama Smithsonian Portraits Unveiled Fatima Barrie

Barack and Michelle Obama Smithsonian Portraits Unveiled Fatima Barrie

The unveiling of the Obama portraits at the National Gallery was always going to be a huge moment, and it sure as hell didn't disappoint. The highly-anticipated portraits thrust the former first couple back in the spotlight. "African blue lilies represent Kenya, his father's birthplace; jasmine stands for Hawaii, where Mr. Obama himself was born; chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago, reference the city where his political career began, and where he met his wife".

"I'm thinking of all the girls of colour who will come and see someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American Institution", said the former U.S. first lady.

"Sherald uses greyscale to paint skin tone in order to take away 'color, ' so her subjects can be seen for their personality and presence", Bennett wrote on Twitter.

Although Wiley's aesthetic style is hyperrealistic, he, like Sherald, doesn't depict his subjects as they are in real life.

The president's portrait will have a permanent home in the Portrait Gallery's recently renovated "America's Presidents" exhibition and Mrs. Obama's will be on view in the recent acquisitions section of the museum through November 2018. It could be called a worker's fabric, she adds. But I think there will be considerable acclaim for this work, too, because Sherald managed to stay true to her own stylistic inclinations while producing a serviceable formal image.

Sherald thanked her subject and explained the way she transforms her portraits of American people from individual subjects into archetypes.

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Known for his monumental portraits of young black men, placed in historical poses and settings appropriated from Old Master paintings, Kehinde Wiley critiques the racism of art history while also commenting on contemporary street culture and masculine identity.

The floor-length gown Obama wears in the portrait was inspired by a cotton poplin dress designed by Michelle Smith for her spring 2017 Milly collection. "So, I had to just come see it in person", Dominic Jones told WUSA9.

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.

Michelle Obama said she "was a little overwhelmed, to say the least", after seeing her portrait.

Even before they were painted, the Obama portraits were revolutionary.

Perhaps as a sign of the growing polarisation that the United States is experiencing, both portraits generated praise and admiration from the critics, who highlighted the place of the Obama in the history of the U.S., and reactions from a perplexed public, trying to decipher the message. Sherald is a charismatic figure, and I expect that are many people who will be happy to discover her work.



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