President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama at the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the US Capitol Building, Washington, DC in January of 2017 (photo by Cristian L. Ricardo for the Department of Defense/Wikimedia Commons)

For the past four decades, it’s been a White House tradition for an incumbent president to unveil the official portrait of his immediate predecessor. But Donald Trump, the disrupter of all presidential norms and a sworn foe of former President Barack Obama, may break this tradition for the first time. And according to NBC News, Obama is not interested either.

The former president’s Official White House portrait is different from the well-known Obama portraits made by the artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively. Those popular portraits are currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, before they start touring the country in June of 2021.

Trump’s visceral hatred towards Obama has been out in the open long before the 2016 election. It started with his “Birther Conspiracy,” in which he questioned Obama’s citizenship. When that was proven as a lie, he suggested that Obama could not have been admitted to Ivy League schools like Columbia University and Harvard. That too was a lie. These days, Trump is peddling a new conspiracy theory against Obama (aka Obamagate), vaguely claiming that the former president had a hand in the FBI investigation into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.

Obama, who generally refrains from directly attacking Trump, has recently been more vocal in his criticism of the current administration.

In a leaked private call with former officials in his administration earlier this month, Obama called the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic a “chaotic disaster.” He also warned that the “rule of law is at risk,” in response to the Justice Department’s decision to drop the charges against Michael Flynn.

Obama returned to a more subtle style of criticism during a recent virtual commencement address for the 2020 graduates of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Obama said to the graduates. “A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

5 replies on “Trump Will Likely Refuse to Unveil Obama’s Official Presidential Portrait”

  1. Trump really doesn’t get it, does he? He represents the nation, for better or worse. Queen Elizabeth was able to put up with his ineptitude on his visit to the UK, with dignity and politeness and without comment.

  2. His greatest fear, a black man who is smarter than him, or just a man smarter than him. Or just everyone who is smarter than him, thats anyone without a MAGA hat.

  3. Hopefully, art can help free us from conspiracy theorist occupying the White House. A pandemic places a cloud over life around the world while a grifter wallows in petty hatred and political theater. Hopefully, in November the dark cloud will lift, and all can reimagine what it is to be human with much more insight, compassion, and love.

  4. I thing what you said here ………….Trump is peddling a new conspiracy theory against Obama (aka Obamagate), vaguely claiming that the former president had a hand in the FBI investigation into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia…………….. is a lie…………. Obama was in charge and not ony had a hand in it but directed the FBI to investigate Trump ………after the Nation voted hi m out……..get your facts in order.

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