On Monday Barrack Obama‘s Portrait was unveiled and commissioned for the National Portrait Gallery. The Portrait made by Nigerian Kehinde Wiley is the first presidential portrait by a black artist. The Portrait which will hang in the hall of presidents in the National Portrait Gallery, Obama chose Kehinde Wiley, a prominent Yale-trained painter known for large, colorful portraits of black people in the regal style of classic European paintings. (Former presidents always choose their artists.)
Below is a briefing of who Kehinde Wiley is:
Kehinde Wiley (born 1977) is a New York City-based portrait painter who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of African-Americans. The Columbus Museum of Art, which hosted an exhibition of his work in 2007, describes his work with the following: “Wiley has gained recent acclaim for his heroic portraits which address the image and status of young African-American men in contemporary culture.”
Wiley was born in Los Angeles, California. His father is Yoruba from Nigeria, and his mother is African-American. As a child, his mother supported his interest in art and enrolled him in after-school art classes. At the age of 12, he spent a short time at an art school in Russia.
Wiley did not grow up with his father, and at the age of 20 traveled to Nigeria to explore his roots and meet him. Wiley earned his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 and his MFA from Yale University, School of Art in 2001.
He designed the pictures of Barrack and Michelle Obama just unveiled at the Smithsonian, his work was featured in Season 2 of Empire.