Former US President and First Lady Barack Obama and Michelle Obama were just honored with new official portraits. The couple attended the unveiling of the photos at the Smithsonian in Washington DC on Monday, Feb. 12, and of course, made us love them even more in the process.
African American artist Amy Sherald painted the portrait of Michelle, and Barack, 56, couldn’t help but praise her work onstage. “Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman I love,” he shared. How cute?
Michelle loved her portrait as well, which she so elegantly expressed on Instagram. “As a young girl, even in my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined this moment. Nobody in my family has ever had a portrait — there are no portraits of the Robinsons or the Shields from the South Side of Chicago,” she began. “This is all a little bit overwhelming, especially when I think about all of the young people who will visit the National Portrait Gallery and see this, including so many young girls and young girls of color who don’t often see their images displayed in beautiful and iconic ways. I am so proud to help make that kind of history. But the fact is that none of this would be possible without the extraordinary artist and woman behind this portrait, @asherald. Thank you, Amy – it was a joy to work with you and get to know you.”
Barack also expressed his gratitude for his own portrait, created by African American artist Kehinde Wiley, while at the honorable event. “How about that? That’s pretty sharp,” he said onstage. “I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow [him] to do what I asked! I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well.”
He then followed up with a touching Instagram post, similar to wife Michelle’s. “Today, @KehindeWiley and @ASherald became the first black artists to create official presidential portraits for the Smithsonian. To call this experience humbling would be an understatement,” he began. “Thanks to Kehinde and Amy, generations of Americans — and young people from all around the world — will visit the National Portrait Gallery and see this country through a new lens. They’ll walk out of that museum with a better sense of the America we all love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Inclusive and optimistic. And I hope they’ll walk out more empowered to go and change their worlds.” We can’t wait to visit the Smithsonian to see their portraits in person!