Twitter is having fun with the new portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama that were unveiled today by The National Portrait Gallery. They’re both kinda shitty, if you want to know the truth about it. To be fair, at least Barack’s actually looks like him, though he’s sitting in a field of flowers, for some odd reason. Fox News had to explain it to me:
Barack Obama’s portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley. It features a seven-foot portrait sitting in a field of flowers, including chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago; jasmine, a nod to Obama’s childhood in Hawaii; and African blue lilies to symbolize Obama’s late father who was from Kenya.
But this post isn’t really about how terrible the paintings are. There’s plenty of articles around about that already. Instead, I wanted to highlight some other works from Kehinde Wiley, the artist who produced Barack Obama’s portrait (Amy Sherald is the artist responsible for Michelle’s half of the equation).
He seems to have a healthy dislike of white people.
But maybe this is just a one-off? Perhaps I’m judging this guy a little too quickly…
Oh. Perhaps not then. The article I got that last one from describes Mr. Wiley’s work thusly…
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. Reinventing classical portraiture and questioning who is represented in the portraits found in museums worldwide, Wiley states, “The whole conversation of my work has to do with power and who has it.”
Maybe I’m just not an astute enough art enthusiast to appreciate all these depictions of of white women being decapitated by black women. I’ll work on it.
UPDATE: Stefan Molyneux picked up on this as well…