Barack and Michelle Obama choose artists to paint their official portraits

Scott Olson via Getty Images

Scott Olson via Getty Images

According to the National Portrait Gallery's website, the former president tapped renowned New York-based artist Kehinde Wiley.

Barack Obama has selected Kehinde Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, the Smithsonian has announced.

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The portrait, as well as one depicting former first lady Michelle Obama, was commissioned by the museum's National Portrait Gallery. In 2012, he reiterated his interest to the BBC: "I think it would be really interesting to paint Obama".

President Obama requested his portrait be painted by 40-year-old Wiley, who is from NY. I've done several studies in the past, I've sort of worked out different strategies about how that would be, but it's a very curious possibility.

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Former first lady Michelle Obama selected Baltimore artist Amy Sherald, known for challenging stereotypes through life-sized paintings of African-Americans, for her accompanying portrait. The two paintings will be unveiled at the museum in early 2018 and will be added to the National Portrait Gallery's permanent collection. "We'll see where that goes".

At the end of each presidency, the Smithsonian works in conjunction with the White House to commission an official portrait of the president and one of his spouse. Last year, she became the first African-American and first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition; she was chosen for the $25,000 award from among 2,500 entrants. They will be paid for their commissioned paintings through private donations. He is known for his portraits that riff on paintings by the Old Masters, featuring everyday black men and women wearing clothing normally associated with hip-hop culture, set against ornate decorative backgrounds.

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