The Obama Portraits Tour is on view through March 20, 2022
From the moment of their unveiling at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in February 2018, the museum’s official portraits of President Barack and Mrs. Michelle Obama have become iconic. Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Obama and Amy Sherald’s portrait of the former First Lady have inspired unprecedented responses from the public.
From the moment of their unveiling at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in February 2018, the museum’s official portraits of President and Mrs. Michelle Obama have become iconic. Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Obama and Amy Sherald’s portrait of the former First Lady have inspired unprecedented responses from the public.
The Obama Portraits Tour features two acclaimed portraits: Kehinde Wiley’s painting of President Barack Obama and Amy Sherald’s portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama. A celebration of historic measure, the portraits feature history-making subjects and were made by groundbreaking artists. Wiley and Sherald are the first African American artists to be commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to create official portraits of a president or first lady. Wiley placed a seated President against a backdrop of flowers with special significance, including chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago. Sherald captured the former first lady against a light-blue background, sitting and gazing directly at the viewer. The exhibition provides visitors with the opportunity to examine both portraits up close in all of their glory.
This five-city tour will travel the country from June 2021 through May 2022 and is expected to reach millions of people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to view these remarkable paintings. In addition to the artworks themselves, The Obama Portraits Tour will feature audio-visual elements, Portrait Gallery-led teacher workshops, curatorial presentations, and a richly illustrated book (National Portrait Gallery and Princeton University Press). This special presentation will enhance the conversations surrounding the power of portraiture and its potential to engage communities.
The exhibition also features an eight-minute video.
Tour locations include:
- Art Institute of Chicago; Chicago—June 18, 2021–Aug. 15, 2021
- Brooklyn Museum; Brooklyn, New York—Aug. 27, 2021–Oct. 24, 2021
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Los Angeles—Nov. 7, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
- High Museum of Art; Atlanta—Jan. 14, 2022–March 20, 2022
- The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Houston—April 3, 2022–May 30, 2022
Image credits: Kehinde Wiley, Barack Obama, 2018, oil on canvas, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, © 2018 Kehinde Wiley; Amy Sherald, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, 2018, oil on linen, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. The National Portrait Gallery is grateful to the generous donors who made these commissions possible and proudly recognizes them at npg.si.edu/obamaportraitstour.