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Kehinde Wiley, known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African American subjects, has been commissioned to paint the official presidential portrait of President Obama for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery at Obama's request, the museum revealed Friday.
Wiley, a Los Angeles native, is world-renowned for his portraits of young black men adorned in the latest in hip-hop street style. The artist has painted portraits of influential hip-hop figures such as the Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Michael Jackson, among others.
At the end of each presidency, the National Portrait Gallery partners with the White House to commission one official portrait each of the president and the first lady. The two sets of official portraits (one for the White House and one for the National Portrait Gallery) are financed through private funds and have been a tradition beginning with former President George H.W. Bush.
Georgia native Amy Sherald will paint former First Lady Michelle Obama. The two paintings will be unveiled at the museum in early 2018 and will be added to the National Portrait Gallery's permanent collection.
"The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady," said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. "Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century."
Check out some of Wiley's work below: