The Smithsonian revealed on Friday the two artists set to paint official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama, and the former first couple’s choices are inspired.
Kehinde Wiley, well known for portraits of young black men that incorporate elements of Western art, will paint the former president. Baltimore artist Amy Sherald will paint the former first lady.
Both portraits are set to be unveiled in early 2018 and hang in the National Portrait Gallery. The Obamas each selected the artist that would paint their portrait.
Wiley, who will paint the president, is known for depicting African American men in the style of the Old Masters over baroque backgrounds. In another lifetime known popularly as 2012, Wiley spoke about Obama’s presidency with the BBC. “The reality of Barack Obama being the president of the United States—quite possibly the most powerful nation in the world—means that the image of power is completely new for an entire generation of not only black American kids, but every population group in this nation,” he said.