Old Abe, Lyndon and Ronald must be looking on in envy from their fusty canvases at the official portrait of Barack Obama that was released at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington this week.Forget traditional settings like the Oval Office; here Obama is depicted looking pensive amid a sea of symbolic foliage. To complement this, former first lady Michelle’s portrait looks like something straight out of Vogue magazine.And here’s the thing — not only are these two paintings significant in their luminous, contemporary approach but they’re also by two of the US’s leading African-American artists. Kehinde Wiley created the blooming Barack while Amy Sherald depicted the fierce, fashion-plate Michelle.

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now