Why Is Kehinde Wiley Painting Barack Obama Such A Big Deal?

Nigerian artist Kehinde Wiley will be the first black artist to create an official USA presidential portrait for the Smithsonian. The painting of a past President of the USA follows a tradition that dates back to America’s 41st president, George H. Bush, where the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery commissions an artist to create a portrait of the President and the First Lady after their tenure.

Kehinde is known for creating incredible paintings of everyday black men and women in style. A couple of iconic celebs he has painted include LL Cool J, Ice T, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Former First Lady Michelle Obama also chose female painter Amy Sherald to capture her likeness, which makes Kehinde and Amy the first black artists to create official presidential portraits for the Smithsonian.

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