Mark your calendars, because the Obamas are coming. Well, not exactly in flesh, but it’s still exciting news: Starting in June 2021, the official portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama will leave the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC to tour five cities across the United States.
Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald’s portraits of the presidential couple will start their tour at the Art Institute of Chicago (June 18–August 15, 2021) before traveling to the Brooklyn Museum (August 27–October 24, 2021), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (November 5, 2021–January 2, 2022), the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (January 14–March 13, 2022), and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (March 25–May 30, 2022).
“Since the unveiling of these two portraits of the Obamas, the Portrait Gallery has experienced a record number of visitors, not only to view these works in person, but to be part of the communal experience of a particular moment in time,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, in a statement. “This tour is an opportunity for audiences in different parts of the country to witness how portraiture can engage people in the beauty of dialogue and shared experience.”
According to Sajet, the venues were selected based on personal and geographical affinities. Chicago is the Obamas’ former home city, and the works will be there when the former president celebrates his 60th birthday. Sherald hails from Georgia, and Wiley was born in Los Angeles. The latter now has a studio in Brooklyn, and several of his works are in the Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection.
In addition to the portraits, the tour will include audio-visual supplements, teacher workshops, and curatorial presentations in each location.
A hashtag for the tour is already in place (#obamaportraitstour) and a book is on the way. The Obama Portraits will be released in partnership with Princeton University Press on February 11.
Special Edition: 🖌️Artists’ Signatures ✍️
In this special edition, we investigate what artists’ signatures actually mean, and the fascinating results reveal the multifaceted history of this curious phenomenon.
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The Meaning of Ancient Greek and Roman Artisan Signatures
What did a signature mean in the ancient world, and how much can we trust what they seem to tell us?
Michelangelo’s Signature and the Myth of Genius
Michelangelo served as a stellar example for future artists who sought status and economic independence.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
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100 Years of Artist Signatures in a Detroit Club
The beams in Detroit’s Scarab Club act as a guest book of sorts, carrying a wealth of stories and history, including signatures by Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, Margaret Bourke-White, Isamu Noguchi, and others.
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Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
The Myth of Agency Around Artists’ Signatures
In an art world built on shifting sands, artists’ signatures become symbols of agency for some, and relics of the past for others.
The Women Artists Commemorated on an NYC Sidewalk
The signatures of Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, and six other historical women artists are engraved on a small stretch of sidewalk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Met Museum Repatriates 15 Objects to India
The sculptures were all at one point sold by the disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Placed on Russian “Wanted” List
Tolokonnikova has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Michele at the peak without being a queen.
Barack lost in the weeds.
I love the shameless intersection of Fine Arts and Propaganda; it’s certainly come a long way since the days of Isaak Brodsky.
I would not cross the street to see a painting of the awful neoliberal drone bombing murderer Obama. Unless it was to do a Laslo Toth.
Haters gonna hate. I am eager to see these portraits in person.
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