Barack Obama has chosen a gay artist to paint his official portrait


Former President of the United States, Barack Obama, has chosen Kehinde Wiley to paint his official portrait.

The New York-based gay artist has built his career on featuring young black men and women in his work using a classical European style.

Michael Jackson is just one of the huge stars who have previously commissioned Wiley to do a portrait of themselves, but he has also done portraits of Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, and Ice T.

Work in progress. Oil study on linen for a Nigeria series of portraits. ???? @bradogbonna

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Studio session #kehindewiley

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But now he will get the chance to paint the first black President of the United States.


After each presidency the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC teams up with the White House to commission an official portrait of the former President.

It means Wiley’s piece will immediately go into the history books and hang in the gallery when it’s officially unveiled in early 2018.

Ethiopian Jews in Tel Aviv. Alios Itzhak, 2011 Oil and gold enamel on canvas 96 x 72 in @thejewishmuseum

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"The Virgin Martyr Saint Cecilia" 2010 oil on canvas

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Although Wiley identifies as gay, he has spoken openly about the fluidity of his sexuality in the past.

“I’m a gay man who has occasionally drifted,” he explained. “I am not bi. I’ve had perfectly pleasant romances with women, but they weren’t sustainable. My passion wasn’t there. I would always be looking at guys.”

Meanwhile, former First Lady Michelle Obama’s official portrait will be painted by Amy Sherald.

The portraits will cost $500,000, which includes costs for the unveiling event and a reserve for future care.

Related: President Obama: Anti-gay discrimination is the same as racial discrimination



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