Sean Hannity Has a Demented New Theory About Barack Obama's Official Portrait

Artist Kehinde Wiley and Barack Obama participate in the unveiling of Obama's portrait. REUTERS  Jim Bourg

Artist Kehinde Wiley and Barack Obama participate in the unveiling of Obama's portrait. REUTERS Jim Bourg

"And so she sits symbolically in the world in the same way I want my images to sit".

Barack and Michelle Obama unveiled their official portraits on Monday-and the response was... mixed, to say the least. Wiley and Sherald break boundaries as the first black artists to create official presidential portraits for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. But history was made on Monday, with the portraits done by black artists Amy Sherald and Wiley.

At the Smithsonian unveiling, Michelle Obama and the forty-four-year-old Sherald together pulled down brown wraps to expose a painting of shocking mystery.

The former first lady's hair, arms, and face are different gray shades, which is one of Sherald's signature ways of painting the skin tone of her African American subjects.

Dr. Eugene Gu, a columnist for The Hill, agreed, tweeting: "Michelle Obama is an elegant lady and the portrait looks nice".

Two portraits in particular, both of them modern takes on the biblical story of Judith beheading Holofernes and featuring elegantly-dressed black women brandishing the severed heads of white women, suddenly turned controversial in the context of Wiley's new role as a presidential portraitist.

The Obamas' portraits follow an established Washington tradition: the National Portrait Gallery has commissioned portraits of outgoing USA presidents and first ladies since 1962. Nor does Sherald, who often depicts her subjects with some curiously evocative object (a bunch of balloons or a model ship) that creates a dreamlike atmosphere, emphasize the phantasmagorical in her portrait of Michelle Obama.

"What I choose to do is to take people who happen to look like me - black and brown people all over the world, increasingly - and to allow them to occupy that field of power", Wiley told CNN.

Those unfamiliar with Sherald's other works were struck by her distinct visual style, but the decisions Sherald makes with colors serve a powerful goal and are present throughout her other works.

Smith based the design off a piece from her spring 2017 collection, with a few subtle tweaks. She was very aware that little girls, particularly little girls of color, would one day visit this great museum and see someone who looks like them. A seatmate snapped, "They said 'We miss you,' what do you think they'd say?" "How do you explain that a lot of that is just simply not true?" The former first lady had reminded him, he said, that he was not finished, and that he needed to thank his mother.

Close-up of Obama's vein in his official portrait. From photoshopped images of Barack Obama peering through the background greenery of his portrait at an obscenely gesturing President Donald Trump to jokes related to what appears to be a sixth finger in the painting of the former president's hand - the denizens of social media got straight to work.

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