Next year two Obama portraits will be unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. Today the Wall Street Journal announced who the artists responsible for those official images will be: Brooklyn-based Kehinde Wiley, and Baltimore-based Amy Sherald. Both American artists are known for their portraits of African-American individuals, and both demonstrate an emotional sensitivity to their subjects in their work.
Wiley’s New Republic exhibition is currently touring the country. Organized by Eugenie Tsai of the Brooklyn Museum, the show is currently on display at the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona. Wiley is known for his vibrant portraits of African-American men referencing the visual language of European Old Masters painting. He is represented by Sean Kelly Gallery in New York.
While Sherald is the lesser known of the two figures, she is quickly gaining a reputation as an artist who probes how people construct and perform their identities in public. She is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago and is currently showing in the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Fictions exhibition, curated by Connie H. Choi and Hallie Ringle.
Back in July, Hyperallergic critic Seph Rodney considered the possibilities for an official portraitist, including Wiley, but Sherald wasn’t on his list. About the possibility of Wiley, he wrote:
Kehinde Wiley is also an option. Of course, his portrait accomplished in the style of courtly painting would gives us the triumphant Obama, the Nobel prize winner, the man to pull us back from the brink of financial meltdown. However, the drawbacks are that such a portrait would only emphasize that confidence that too often was read as haughtiness, and if Wiley works like he usually does the overall physical comportment might look too staged, too stiff.
When we posted this story on Facebook, it was clear that Hyperallergic readers preferred Wiley over all the other options. Perhaps we should expect a triumphant Obama portrait in the works, and frankly, considering the recent attempts to diminish his legacy, it’s probably best that the former President embrace his historical role and make a stand with what is sure to be an eye-catching work.
The artist’s works resonate in West Texas, where the story of dehumanized and exploited migrant laborers is tangible and ever-present.
Saim Sadiq’s crushing debut, the first Pakistani film to be shortlisted for the Oscars, is imbued with a crisis of space.
Located in Des Moines, Iowa, this residency for emerging and established artists includes studio and living space, a $1,000 monthly stipend, and more.
Asma Naeem’s appointment comes in the wake of a tumultuous period for the institution.
I couldn’t in good conscience accept an invitation to an exhibition hosted and sponsored by a brutal regime.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed centers the artist’s campaign to stop the “artwashing” of the Sackler family’s role in the opioid crisis.
Researchers are investigating whether the presence of lead formate originated from past attempts to conserve the painting.
Fully-funded teaching assistantships are standard for MFA students at the top-ranked, flagship research university in the state of New York.
Despite the deluge of online memes, reactions on the ground were mostly positive, but some think the work lacks context.
The artist’s droll paintings present the pie chart as a useful monitor of a group’s behavior, while also revealing it to be exclusionary and superficial.
Gender play, kink, and futures that touch traditional lifeways are enduring features of Virgil Ortiz’s work.
Within this rich survey of 1990s ephemera is an homage to the modes of communication that forged community and identity prior to the internet.