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kehinde wiley and amy sherald become first black artists to paint presidential portraits

Kehinde will paint Barack and Amy will paint Michelle.

by Roisin Lanigan
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16 October 2017, 11:09am

Image via Wikipedia

While they might not be in the White House anymore -- and yes, that still hurts a lot to say and type -- the Obamas are continuing to make history, this time in their choice of Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, the first black artists to paint presidential portraits.

Announced by The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the paintings will be unveiled sometime next year. Kehinde, who will paint Barack, is well known for his vibrant hip-hop portraiture, capturing everyone from Biggie Smalls to LL Cool J in imperious, lordly settings. And last year, Amy became the first African-American, and the first woman, to win the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

"Both [painters] have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century," Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a statement.

The Smithsonian is home to America's only complete collection of presidential portraits (outside the White House of course). Barack and Michelle's pieces will join his predecessors in the gallery's America's Presidents exhibition, which reopened just this month.