It was the first time in 10 years that a sitting president invited former leaders to unveil their portraits.
Photo: AFP – MANDEL NGAN
Barack and Michelle Obama returned to the White House on Wednesday. to present their official portraits. “Barack and Michelle, welcome home,” said President Joe Biden, who served as vice president during the Obama administration for eight years.
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For his part, John Rogers, president of the White House Historical Association, commented that Wednesday’s ceremony was a celebration of “the incredible history of the United States,” Rogers said, according to data from Washington Post, highlighting the Obamas as the first African-American family to occupy the White House in US history. Here are Obama’s official portraits.
Obama’s official White House portraits are on display
Artists: Robert McCurdy (of former President Obama) and Shannon Sprung (portrait of Michelle Obama) pic.twitter.com/MIlJjqPfNl
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) September 7, 2022
Who are the selected artists for the portraits?
Robert McCurdy, Known for his photorealistic style, he painted the portrait of Barack Obama. “The key to these unique portraits of influential leaders of our time is in the look and small details of clothing,” Smithsonian magazine said in a publication. He has painted leaders and heroes such as the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison. Here are some of his works.
While Sharon Spring painted the portrait of Michelle Obama. “My paintings are carefully observed negotiations, manipulated layer by layer to create a work of art as close as possible to the complexity of real life,” reads the artist’s website.
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Teaches modern realism oil painting by model. He attended Cornell University and studied at the Art Students League in New York and the National Academy of Painting in the United States. Here are some of his works.
What is the process behind creating the official portraits?
On the first sessions she had with Michelle Obama, Sharon Sprung commented, “I felt this confidence coming from her; that you do your thing, I do mine. I’ll entrust you with yours. And I think sometimes a portrait works better.
For his part, McCurdy said the former president was very present and easy to work with during their sessions together. “That’s the speech everyone hears when they sit across from me: look straight into the lens. Don’t smile or gesture. And just wait for that moment. Looking for a more meditative or transcendent moment… [el presidente] he did great,” commented the artist. Here is a video of the process.
I want to thank Robert McCurdy for his outstanding work on my portrait. Robert is known for his portraits of public figures and I love how he paints people exactly as they are. Take a look at the process behind creating the official White House portraits: pic.twitter.com/oZb6ov4uwr
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 7, 2022
Why was this ceremony not performed before?
It was the first time in 10 years that a sitting president invited former leaders to unveil their portraits, according to NPR data, as the tradition stopped when no portrait unveiling took place during the Donald Trump administration.
Didn’t the Obamas already have their official portraits?
The White House presidential portraits are different from those in the Presidents of the United States exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, which were painted by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald and were introduced to the museum in 2018.”They made a splash with their distinctive styles and bold colors,” reads the Post. Here are some images of these portraits.
What was the Obama family’s reaction when they found out about the White House portraits?
“It’s still a little strange to me standing in that historic space, seeing this big, beautiful painting staring back at me,” Michelle Obama said, noting that growing up she thought that “a girl like me . . . .to be there with Jacqueline Kennedy. … And she definitely shouldn’t have been the first lady,” she added.
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Traditions like this, he argues, are “important not only to those of us who hold these positions, but to all those who participate in and uphold our democracy.”
For his part, Barack Obama said that “when future generations walk through these halls and look at these portraits, I hope they have a better and more honest idea of who Michelle and I are,” he said. “And I hope they leave with a deeper understanding that if we’ve been able to do it here, maybe they can do remarkable things too,” he added.
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