October 18, 2017

"Obama picks genius hip-hop portraitist Kehinde Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait."

"Known for lush, larger-than-life portraits that overlay black street culture with European classical motifs, Wiley is an exciting choice for the presidential portrait. Imaginably, the New York-based artist will have a novel spin on the traditionally formal composition. Wiley has painted rapper LL Cool J in the style of John Singer Sargent, Ice T as Emperor Napoleon by David and young African American men in stained glass tableaus, like saints in a cathedral."

Quartz reports (showing examples of Wiley's work to give you an idea of what the Obama portrait might looks like).

More images at Metro — "Obama’s chosen the coolest artist for his official presidential portrait."

95 comments:

richlb said...

Is he the guy who painted the Biggie Smalls portrait featured in Luke Cage on Netflix?

TestTube said...

I like this artists work, but I think that "cool" dates rather quickly.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

I used to think that Obama, who I doubt thinks of himself as African-American, was cynically pandering to Blacks for his own glory. It occurs to me that there's a flip side to that assumption. Perhaps he feels insufficiently Black, and is always grasping for anything that bestows authenticity. Sort of like Rachel Dolezal on crack.

Nonapod said...

Those are some pretty goofy juxtapositions. I think I once had a Nyquil fueled fever dream with Ice T playing Napoleon in an episode of Law & Order: SVU.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"Known for lush, larger-than-life portraits that overlay black street culture with European classical motifs"

Well, Obama will undoubtedly want to commemorate the ACA, so:

https://www.wikiart.org/en/el-greco/christ-healing-the-blind-man-1560

However, isn't this cultural appropriation? Or is that, once again, only something whites can be guilty of?

buwaya said...

Obama crossing the Delaware has been done.

Maybe this though -

http://blog.equiculture.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/6974864_1_l.jpg

Todd said...

I am sure it will look fantastic in the Obama shrine I mean Presidential Library...

exiledonmainstreet said...

"It occurs to me that there's a flip side to that assumption. Perhaps he feels insufficiently Black, and is always grasping for anything that bestows authenticity. "

That could also explain Colin Kapernick, raised by white adoptive parents far removed from the inner city scene.

Hagar said...

"It occurs to me that there's a flip side to that assumption. Perhaps he feels insufficiently Black, and is always grasping for anything that bestows authenticity. "

That is what his half-brother, who also has a White mother, says.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

Elvis on velvet, Elvis had more class...

buwaya said...

I think the Mussolini look is most appropriate. It favors him, and his style.

http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/benito-mussolini-il-duce-italian-fascist-dictator-addressing-fascist-picture-id113634153

I favor the Mussolini look myself. I try for this particular aspect in my personal portraiture -

https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.timetoast.com/public/uploads/photos/1162172/Benito_Mussolini.jpg?1473527710

Khesanh 0802 said...

Looks like good stuff. I suspect Michelle will look great on horse back. No, that's not nice. I think this guy will produce nice portraits.

Pose Obama as King Canute?!?

Todd said...

Hagar said...

"It occurs to me that there's a flip side to that assumption. Perhaps he feels insufficiently Black, and is always grasping for anything that bestows authenticity. "

That is what his half-brother, who also has a White mother, says.

10/18/17, 3:21 PM


So you all are willing to give more credit to his half-WHITE brother than you do to the half-BLACK Colin? You RACISTS!

It is the same thing as those RACIST Republicans opposing the half-BLACK Obama instead of embracing the half-WHITE Obama like all the Democrats! As I recall it was a Democrat that pointed out that Obama was clean and well-spoken...

William Chadwick said...

That Barry . . . always so cool! If the artists does do a riff on "Napoleon Crossing the Alps," I hope he remembers to include the most important detail: the Mussolini chin-tilt. He could also have Obama mounted on a unicorn which is defecating bags of money: a comment on The One's economic poliicies.

J. Farmer said...

The Cracker Emcee Activist:

It occurs to me that there's a flip side to that assumption. Perhaps he feels insufficiently Black, and is always grasping for anything that bestows authenticity.

That was pretty much the entire thrust of his book Dreams From My Father. It is actually a dilemna that a lot of mixed race people seem to find themselves in, and they often react by diving deeply into one of their racial categories. It is actually surprising how many members of black activist movements these days are mixed-race people. The huge issue of colorism in the black community probably also helps add fuel to the fire.

For what it's worth, I think this whole notion of presidential libraries and official portraits reeks of monarchism. I am not necessarily against monarchies, but it's long been a pet peeve of mine that the president is both the head of state and the head of government. It is much wiser, I think, to split those titles and keep the head of state as insulated from day-to-day political affairs as possible.

Fernandinande said...

I see the puppy!

gspencer said...

I'd suggest the Elvis-on-Velvet style, with Obama holding a bottle of Colt 45, Hennessy, or Elize.

rehajm said...

Could be great, could be tragic.

Interesting that you cannot view the portraits of the Presidents after Jimmy Carter. Not public domain since the artists were not employed by the federal government, so Wiki says.

madAsHell said...

He's going to paint in landscape mode to capture those cup handles.

MadisonMan said...

So the artists is a Genius and the Coolest thing. Just what you'd expect from the DREAMY Obama.

I agree upthread: "Cool" dates quickly. Bellbottoms anyone?

Achilles said...

I wonder who he is going to hire to airbrush the absolute failure of his presidency out of the history books.

Raphael Ordoñez said...

I've seen Wiley's work at a couple of museums and think it's beautiful. Leaps across the room at you. I love how he melds realistic portraits with two-dimensional patterns. Obama seems like a tough commission, though. What I mean is, there's a certain irony underlying Wiley's work: he portrays "ordinary" men as "great" men in the most flamboyant terms. What's he going to do with someone who's already (boringly, presidentially) great?

Achilles said...

50/50 on Obama being indicted for 1 or more egregious crimes committed while in office. Russian collusion is looking pretty good at the moment.

buwaya said...

"but it's long been a pet peeve of mine that the president is both the head of state and the head of government. It is much wiser, I think, to split those titles and keep the head of state as insulated from day-to-day political affairs as possible."

I propose a natural solution, which will address a vast range of problems at once.
Restore the Spanish Empire, making the US a constitutional monarchy under the Bourbon dynasty. You will then have a proper hereditary head of state of impeccable European pedigree.

dustbunny said...

We are asked to imagine which famous, acclaimed painting of Western European art history will be chosen for an Obama makeove/appropriation . What statement about race and power-differentials will be most apparent in the artist's juxtaposition? How many inside jokes can be cleverly implied?
The style or period is Late Pop Art, but I'm sure it has a more current, more correct name.

Fernandinande said...

I see the cool hep cat!

eddie willers said...

that overlay black street culture with European classical motifs"

Rappers call it "sampling".

gerry said...

So it will be a caricature. Fitting.

William said...

I liked the paintings I saw posted here. Any chance that he'll be accused of cultural appropriation?

buwaya said...

How about a bit further back, and modify this, of Isabella of Castile -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabella_I_of_Castile#/media/File:Isabel_la_Cat%C3%B3lica-2.jpg

So not only would it be a trans-racial sample, but trans-gender too. Very modern.

WisRich said...

I looked at some of his stuff at the link. The guy's good.

I didn't realize the portrait came after you left office.

Dr Weevil said...

Just where does 'the' official presidential portrait go? I thought it joined the series of presidential portraits on the second floor of the National Portrait Gallery, and that other portraits in presidential libraries or in the White House (if a later president admires one of his predecessors enough) were not the one-and-only official portrait.

If so, that brings in another angle: This painter seems to do only huge paintings. Will Obama's portrait be massively larger than any of the others in the NPG, dominating the room and making all the white presidents look small? If so, is that part of his conscious intention, or just something that helped his lizard brain decide on this particular painter without him realizing it?

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Black velvet, please.

Also eyes that follow you.

Fernandinande said...

Dr Weevil said...
Just where does 'the' official presidential portrait go?


Where the sun don't shine.


So it won't fade.

MadisonMan said...

50/50 on Obama being indicted for 1 or more egregious crimes committed while in office.

Maybe cyrillic writing can be inserted into the painting somewhere. я был здесь ?

Saint Croix said...

I think I prefer Ernie Barnes.

Titus said...

fabulous of course

Titus said...

They are looking for a place in NYC too, of course.

sparrow said...

"It occurs to me that there's a flip side to that assumption. Perhaps he feels insufficiently Black, and is always grasping for anything that bestows authenticity."

Probably applies to Lani Guinier as well

Titus said...

there has been Malia sightings all over my hood.

Hagar said...

Presidential libraries are trending to become their pyramids.
Obama is even reported to skip the library part - probably to avoid any embarrassing "Sandy the Burglar" type incidents - and just build the monument.

Ralph L said...

It's too bad he's already done a Louis XIV style portrait. That would have been perfect.

madAsHell said...

Here's the artist's web site. I think Kathy Griffin might be one of his assistants.

Ralph L said...

there has been Malia sightings all over my hood.

I'm guessing she sticks out--because of her height.

Birches said...

This could be really good.

Michael K said...

Will it be on black velvet ?

Freeman Hunt said...

An image search reveals a real talent for faces,which is the important thing. Also, lots of bright, background patterns. Wonder if he'll skip the pattern for this one, use a pattern in more muted colors to go with the other portraits, or stick with his usual pattern pallette.

walter said...

So..the photog only does black. Nice.

"I cast all my models on the streets of New York, and in the case of The World Stage, on the streets of that respective country. I have a camera crew with me, examples of my work and usually an attractive woman with me because there’s something homoerotically charged about this whole interaction. Me as a male talking to another male, and predisposing that there’s some kind of beauty being exchanged or desired. "

i.e. "No Homo"

Howard said...

Barack Hussein OG

walter said...

I wonder if he has a term for the woman's job.

Kate said...

Given the pretentious description of his work, Wiley surprised me when I clicked through. His paintings are beautiful and thought-provoking. I agree with what someone said upstream: how will he choose to paint a president when Wiley's style is so self-reflective?

readering said...

No appraisal from the painting blogger?

robother said...

Another genius! And he's painting our first genius President. Does the artist have a MacArthur Genius grant, like Ta-Na-Hesi Coates? Truly we are living in a 2d Age of Enlightenment, where giants walk the earth.

CWJ said...

Clicked through both links -

So wallpaper it is.

No black velvet.

Ken B said...

Will the portrait show him touching Adam's finger?

fxB1zNk3hJ8r11DRSmyQh1dLGkIF said...

I predict he paints the Lightworker in the style of Thomas Kinkade.

Drago said...

Achilles: "I wonder who he is going to hire to airbrush the absolute failure of his presidency out of the history books."

No one.

There is not shortage of volunteers for the earth-bound lefty messiah.

Breezy said...

He was a US President, not Jay-Z, fer goodness sake.

mccullough said...

Should have picked W to paint his portrait

Robert Cook said...

"50/50 on Obama being indicted for 1 or more egregious crimes committed while in office. Russian collusion is looking pretty good at the moment."

Oh, please.

Obama certainly committed crimes in office, but they are the same crimes his predecessors routinely committed...mass murder, war crimes, baseless wars, allowing illegal and constant surveillance of all American citizens to metastasize, lying to the American people, etc.

If Obama's predecessors haven't been (and won't be!) indicted for so much as jaywalking, Obama will be hailed as the best of them all!

Greg Hlatky said...

Leftists have no standing whatsoever to accuse anyone of crimes. None.

Robert Cook said...

"So..the photog only does black. Nice."

He's a painter.

Why shouldn't he paint people of his own culture and ethncity? Do you question why most white painters (or movie directors) feature exclusively or mostly white subjects or white actors in their work?

Robert Cook said...

"Leftists have no standing whatsoever to accuse anyone of crimes. None."

That's a childish and inane remark. If crimes have been committed, they are to be called out by every clear-eyed witness. I don't see any ethical right-wingers (are there any?) calling out their presidents for their crimes.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

I went to the Quartz link and I have to laugh. They look like late '70's National Lampoon covers.

Michael K said...

I don't see any ethical right-wingers (are there any?) calling out their presidents for their crimes.

Hilarious. Cookie, you need to get back into your Trotsky tee shirt.

Jupiter said...

buwaya said...

"I propose a natural solution, which will address a vast range of problems at once.
Restore the Spanish Empire, making the US a constitutional monarchy under the Bourbon dynasty. You will then have a proper hereditary head of state of impeccable European pedigree."

So then we invade Mexico and South America? Or just Cuba?

walter said...

Cookie,
Yes..he is a painter, with photo-realistic realism as seen through instagram filters...clip art style backgrounds.
Is his culture a mixed race guy from Hawaii?
I see he had some pillars in the Sri Lanka pieces..maybe can redo those for O's...maybe a ghostly image of Trayvon.

cf said...

He is Wonderful, an Exquisite choice.

My first thoughts were right there with Raphael Ordoñez above, and it is true that what we have mostly seen (in New York the Brooklyn Library, what a gift) is the triumphant European matrix framing a Heroic homeboy.

But look at this series, purely Portraits, and what beautiful textile-like back setting.

http://kehindewiley.com/works/the-world-stage-jamaica/

... I have been furiously resistant to the Obama psychosis since it began. But somehow, maybe especially now in this splintering of so many constructs, mores and contracts, I am in surprusing, easy compassion for the Man Obama.

I have been thinking of my Alternate Universe Obama lately. He could have been Awesome. This choice is one the Alternate might have chosen, too.

walter said...

Since W doesn't focus solely on his own race, I love the idea of him painting O. And if it sucks, Obama can say "It's Bush's fault."

buwaya said...

"So then we invade Mexico and South America? Or just Cuba?"

Well, you already have Puerto Rico, which is a start.
I vote for Cuba next. Its enormously valuable, potentially.
Florida #2, or x2 if properly run.
Philippines next, if it works out. The Filipinos may not go along though.
Restore the rest in reverse order if convenient.
I expect we will get quite a few volunteers among the other bits of Latin America.

cf said...

Funny, kind of off the point, but a clarity coming from this dialog . . I realize part of why I can be compassionate now for Obama is because we have the Yang for his Yin in Pres. Trump, to reSolve the dumb parts, to reconcile the extremes in a most dynamic way. Trump brings my heart serenity and compassion for pretty much everyone right now, hah.

R.J. Chatt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R.J. Chatt said...

I think Michelle Obama made a wiser choice for her portrait -- Amy Sherald, a portraitist who specializes in bold, understated powerful black women. Barack's choice is problematic -- displaying the President as a grandiose hero from the colonialist and decadent Baroque period might be slightly too honest for comfort, considering the frequent criticisms of him as not being a true black African American man. Also the decorative backgrounds favored by Kehinde Wiley may highlight the ex-President's femininity and expose him to ridicule as a closeted gay man. Of course given Barack Obama's well noted intellectual brilliance, he may have chosen Wiley for just these reasons. In your face, America!

vanderleun said...

"TestTube said...
I like this artists work, but I think that "cool" dates rather quickly."

Much like Obama.

Robert Cook said...

"Trump brings my heart serenity and compassion for pretty much everyone right now, hah."

Run! Don't Walk! To your nearest mental health care practitioner! You seem to suffering the onset of a psychotic episode!

Dave Begley said...

George W. Bush should be the artist. That would be historic.

MikeD said...

Douche artist paints douche portrait of world class douche former "President".

Drago said...

Cook: "Run! Don't Walk! To your nearest mental health care practitioner!"

Pray that you are not in a leftist Peoples Paradise like Venezuela, 'cuz not only will there be no health care providers, there won't be any food, electricity, gas or clean water.

But its all good because soon the body count will increase sufficiently that the remaining lefties will be living in a lefty dream "sustainable" society.

SweatBee said...

The guy has a talent with faces, but if he uses his signature style for Obama, it's going to stick out like a tacky sore thumb hanging in the portrait gallery next to all the other neutral backgrounds. It's at risk to become the orange shag bathroom carpeting of presidential portraiture.

Drago said...

Cook: " I don't see any ethical right-wingers (are there any?) calling out their presidents for their crimes."

Hmmm, not that you could hear anything at all above the sturm and drang of the lefties accusing every right-winger of every crime just about every minute of the day.

But as soon as a rightwinger commits a crime, we can chat.

Until then, I hope those Russians are enjoying all the uranium they bribed/kick-backed/payforplayed to get from the democrats.

The best news of all? No one knows where that uranium ended up.

The better news? The Clintons sucked in over $145 Million from Russians after cutting that cool, cool deal with Putins boys.

Good times, good times.

Almost as good as Bill Clintons transfer of US MIRV technology for campaign cash with the Chinese through an "accident" by Bill and Hillary's good pal company Loral.

Oops!

J. Farmer said...

But as soon as a rightwinger commits a crime, we can chat.

Well, of course, according to the so called Supremacy Clause of the Constitution:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

This severely restricts what the US can do on the international stage, bur of course we routinely hear among conservatives that the US can do whatever we want, even though international treaties bind us. Sadly, for many people here, they are part of the talk radio/cable news set, whose entire argument is, "When the other side does it, it's evil," but when "our side" does it, I'll across broken glass to justify it. Geez, its as if people, by and large, are tribal troglodytes rather than principled human beings. Imagine if you could be equally against Clinton as you were Bush. That's simply too much for the partisan morons who dominate this thread to comprehend.

Birches said...

The guy has a talent with faces, but if he uses his signature style for Obama, it's going to stick out like a tacky sore thumb hanging in the portrait gallery next to all the other neutral backgrounds. It's at risk to become the orange shag bathroom carpeting of presidential portraiture.

Trump's portrait will follow. I think it will be fine. Remember the Maralago portrait?

MaxedOutMama said...

Well, this all reminds me of that awful episode of the original Star Trek. My memory was hazy, but the guys and short-skirted gals encountered an alien being who was a remnant of the "gods" of the Greeks, and wanted them to worship him. Also he wanted to do the Weinstein with one of the short-skirted gals. There were pillars and so forth. And togas.

Obama should be painted among the Greek wreckage - it would be reminiscent of that one speech of his with the classical backdrop - do we all remember?
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1050017/Obama-God-Democrats-build-temple-Barack.html

And it will, considering the truths that are emerging about the acute corruption tolerated in his administration, be incredibly satirical. And that is what President Lovely Man has doomed himself to be. A satire of what he could have been.

Steven Wilson said...

I used to think that

Vanity[b] of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

summed up Obama, but now I know we can substitute another v word
veneer. Our first two dimensional president.

pacwest said...

J.Farmer,
I always watch your comments with interest since you seem to be an honest broker of your opinions, but I don't get the point re treaties. Way out of my depth, but wasn't Carter the last one to do this? The Constitution doesn't have a way to get out of them, but I believe the SC would rule in favor of Presidential powers due to precedent.

narciso said...

Yes the rhodes show was explicitly not designex as a treaty, otherwise it would havd to be ratified by Congress that was corners one near trick.

Chris said...

There's a Kahinde Wiley portrait in the DIA here in Detroit. I like it fine. It's striking, interesting, larger than life, vivid and imaginative. I cant wait to see what this presidential portrait will look like. Maybe it will be BHO all street thug'd up in front of a bombed out stoop in Chicago gangland. That would be fitting. No?

Robert Cook said...

"Geez, its as if people, by and large, are tribal troglodytes rather than principled human beings."

Ya think?

As usual, J. Farmer sums up the truth succinctly.

Robert Cook said...

"But as soon as a rightwinger commits a crime, we can chat."


Hahahahahaha!

Robert Cook said...

pacwest said: "I always watch (J.Farmer's) comments with interest since (he) seems to be an honest broker of (his) opinions, but I don't get the point re treaties. Way out of my depth, but wasn't Carter the last one to do this? The Constitution doesn't have a way to get out of them, but I believe the SC would rule in favor of Presidential powers due to precedent."

In order to terminate our partnership in the treaty that prohibits the U.S. from making unilateral decisions and taking unilateral action to use force(not compelled by immediate self-defense necessity or that are not approved by a majority vote of the UN Security Council)against other countries --a prohibition we violate all the time--we would have to withdraw from membership in the United Nations--an institution the U.S. was instrumental in creating--as that treaty is the U.N. Charter. In fact, this charter even prohibits member nations from even threatening use of force against "any state."

What do you mean by "...wasn't Carter the last one to do this?"

Do what?

ken in tx said...

Maybe he could paint him as Louis XIV. I got that idea somewhere online./s

Skippy Tisdale said...

So something like this then:

http://i1.wp.com/wildammo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/original_obama_victory_unicorn.jpg?w=720

CJ said...

I loathe Obama but I think this is pretty cool and unique. Honestly I’m just glad he chose a painter that can actually paint. It’s very unlike almost every other appointment during his presidency.

Leigh said...

@Buwaya, there won't be any "Obama crossing the Delaware" portraits -- too pro-American. It's no surprise he'd choose an artist who will depict him in an overlay of "classic European motifs." If I had to bet, there will be few, if any symbols of the USA in the final product.