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Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald are the first-ever black artists to be hired by the Smithsonian to paint portraits of a President and First Lady.

Paula Rogo
Oct, 14, 2017

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced that two black artists will be painting the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The couple apparently hand-picked  Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to do the paintings, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Both artists have exhibited widely, but this presidential assignment amounts to a coup as they follow in the footsteps of artists like Gilbert Stuart, whose portraits of George Washington are considered masterpieces,” according to the Wall Street Journal. 

This makes Wiley and Sherald the first-ever black artists to be hired to paint portraits of a President and First Lady by the Smithsonian. They will be paid for their commissioned paintings through private donations.

Wiley is a New York-born artist best known for his recreation of paintings by the Old Masters that are remixed with black bodies and accoutrements from hip-hop culture. Sherald, from Baltimore, Md., is known for painting surreal portraits of elegant black women.

Congratulations to the two artists.