US News What Critics Are Saying About the Obamas’ Official Portraits

06:35  13 february  2018
06:35  13 february  2018 Source:   OBSERVER

Theodore Roosevelt Hated His Presidential Portrait So Much He Burnt It

  Theodore Roosevelt Hated His Presidential Portrait So Much He Burnt It Theodore Roosvelt thought that Theobald Chatran's portrait of him made him look like a 'mewling cat.' In each administration since George Washington kicked off the tradition, one or more artists have been selected to capture our commanders in chief, usually in oil on canvas.

Find out what the fashionistas had to say after the jump.“It’s a puzzling concoction for those of us who like total looks, but still — it’s confident and forward,” says LA Times fashion critic Keren Eldad about the First Lady’s choice of blue-green patent shoes and olive gloves, adding, “ The Obamas as a family

While she thinks this is a better produced image than the first official portrait of President Donald Trump, comparisons to images from the Obama era are less favourable. "For people who want to criticise her for that, they will be able to do that but for people who want to say , 'Look, she's the First

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People couldn’t help but compare Trump’s and Michelle Obama ’s official portraits . Bad air-brushing, wrong choice of suit colour, overbearing diamond ring—there was something for every critic in the Twitterverse.

But what else are critics saying about this highly anticipated novel? In light of recent tensions in America - despite the passing of what we often assume is 60-odd years of progress - this is perhaps a more timely and important portrait than we would like to admit."

The official portraits of former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle were unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. on Monday. Rarely do presidential portraits generate such a frenzy of media attention, but the art world has been waiting with bated breath since October when it was announced that Obama had selected the high-profile painter Kehinde Wiley to capture his likeness, while Michelle opted for rising star Amy Sherald. Now that the works are finally on view, it’s Sherald’s painting that is garnering the most attention.

a group of people posing for a photo: Instagram Photo © Provided by The New York Observer LLC Instagram Photo

Wiley, 40, is renowned for his oversized portraits of black subjects—especially black men—in poses reminiscent of historical European tableaux of once illustrious white men such as kings, emperors and generals. Often depicted against richly detailed, decoratively florid backgrounds, the artist’s depiction of the 44th president is no exception. A seated Obama leans forward in an ornate wooden chair amidst a lush background dotted with flowers that tell of his background: blue lilies for Kenya where his father hails from, jasmine for Hawaii where he grew up, and chrysanthemums for Chicago where he cut his political teeth.

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In the film, co-director and onscreen narrator Dinesh D’Souza imagines what the U.S. would be like, should Obama win a second term—and what he imagines isn’t pretty. Here is a sampling of what the critics had to say about D'Souza's film.

Since the presidency of George H.W. Bush, official portraits have been paid for with private funds, mostly from big Curators added Ms. Sherald to the list for the Obamas “at the very last minute,” Ms. Sajet said . October 16, 2017. Critic ’s Notebook: Making Shakespeare Their Own, Serious and Silly.

According to New York Times senior critic Holland Cotter, the floral storytelling sets Wiley’s apart from previous presidential portraits. “At some level, all portraits are propaganda, political or personal,” he wrote in his review. “And what makes this one distinctive is the personal part. Mr. Wiley has set Mr. Obama against—really embedded him in—a bower of what looks like ground cover.”

  What Critics Are Saying About the Obamas’ Official Portraits © Provided by The New York Observer LLC Cotter is a little less laudatory of Sherald’s portrait of Michelle, claiming that the dress the artist painstakingly rendered the first lady in is more the subject of the painting than the first lady herself. “Mrs. Obama’s face forms the composition’s peak, but could be almost anyone’s face, like a model’s face in a fashion spread. To be honest, I was anticipating—hoping for—a bolder, more incisive image of the strong-voiced person I imagine this former first lady to be,” Cotter said.

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"I'm very pleased to hear that my portrait of Barack Obama appeared on Twitter!" he wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News. "I wish I had the opportunity to paint the official portrait but that's not the case." The artist said he’s flattered that people thought his work, which is for sale

Critics were appalled. Officials are expected to show national unity when visiting other nations. But Obama tossed that out the window because he is – at heart – a globalist. He said he owed Obama his silence and refrained from commenting on his affairs for his two terms in office.

Like Wiley, Sherald was known for her portraits of African-American subjects, often rendered in flat black and white against backgrounds of pure, bold color. The 44-year-old Baltimore-based artist, who received the High Museum of Art’s David C. Driskell prize just last week and was the first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition in 2016, chose to represent Michelle Obama in a seated stance, also bent forward like President Obama’s in Wiley’s work, against a robin’s egg blue background. The skirt of her gown, a design by Michelle Smith for her fashion label Milly, grabs the viewer’s eye with its bold geometric forms and large presence on the canvas.

AFP AFP_ZK669 E ACE USA DC: Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand beside their portraits after their unveiling at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington on Feb. 12, 2018. Obamas’ official portraits unveiled at National Portrait Gallery Related: Inside the Obamas' portrait unveiling ( Provided by USA Today)

It’s untoward to undermine the importance of the dress in Sherald’s painting as Cotter did since, as Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post astutely points out, Sherman’s rendering of the skirt addresses some of the issues she faced while in the White House. “The dress forms a pyramid, with the face atop, in a way that suggests a protective carapace, hiding from view the first lady’s body and some of her femininity, which were targets of racist attack during her tenure in the East Wing,” he said in his review.

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Jackie Kennedy chose Shikler as the artist, and her official White House portrait was also done by him. The following is from an article by Shirley Clurman in People magazine which profiles Shikler and discusses the JFK portrait : If Shikler has become, in the words of one critic , "the Gilbert Stuart of the

There has been no official word as to whether or not this is Obama ’s official portrait , but I’m willing to bet it is because I think nothing says “I give no fucks” like a baggy, tan pastoral suit. About the author. Stephen A. Crockett Jr.

Perhaps even more importantly, it’s worth noting that fashion was one of the many ways Michelle Obama made bold statements during her tenure as first lady, often blending couture and average department store brands. As Vanessa Friedman of the The New York Times said in a recent essay on Michelle’s wardrobe, she “set in motion a strategic rethink about the use of clothes that not only helped define her tenure as first lady, but also started a conversation that went far beyond the label or look that she wore…her real contribution went far beyond giving women a license to like clothes and use them to celebrate their own strength and femininity.”

 Related: The Obama family: Life after the White House

Wiley and Sherald represent the first African-American artists commissioned by the National Gallery to paint presidential portraits. The former first family’s artistic selections continued a tradition they established while in the White House of supporting modern to contemporary African-American artists, evidenced in the works by artists such as Alma Thomas and Glen Ligon they had on display when they were in residence. Moreover, the portraits propel a growing trend in the art world of figurative painting addressing gender, race and identity issues in America today.

Indeed, it will take social and political historians decades to unpack the Obama legacy and the particularities of an American identity it raised writ large. But as The Atlantic’s Kriston Capps said, “The former First Family picked these artists to do the job in single strokes. They were the right artists to ask. On top of their contributions to the hall of presidents, Wiley and Sherald advanced the conversation about black art and portraiture with their paintings of the Obamas.”

The first presidential portrait commissioned by the National Gallery was of George H.W. Bush as depicted by in 1994; the initial first lady commission, a portrait of Hillary Clinton, was in 2006. President Obama’s portrait will be installed in the museum’s “American Presidents” gallery, while Michelle’s will be on display in another gallery until November among other recent acquisitions.

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