Official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama

Things We Saw Today: The Obamas’ Official Portraits Are Absolutely Gorgeous

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Barack and Michelle Obama’s portraits will hang in the National Portrait Gallery’s “America’s Presidents” exhibition, reminding America of a time when its White House had class and kindness.

Both portraits were painted by African American artists selected by the former first couple. The Washington Post describes these vivid and unique works:

The 44th president is seen sitting on a wooden armchair that seems to be floating amid a scrim of dense foliage and flowers in an image by Kehinde Wiley. The first lady, painted against a robin’s egg blue background, rests her chin on one hand and stares at the viewer with a curious mix of confidence and vulnerability in a canvas by Amy Sherald.

The artists, chosen by the Obamas, have combined traditional representation with elements that underscore the complexity of their subjects, and the historic fact of their political rise. And both painters have managed to create compelling likenesses without sacrificing key aspects of their signature styles. The Obamas took a significant chance on both artists and were rewarded with powerful images that will shake up the expectations and assumptions of visitors to the traditionally button-down presidential galleries.

The portraits are incredibly striking even in digital format. I hope to see them one day with my own two eyes.

(via The Washington Post, images: Kehinde Wiley, Amy Sherald)

    • In utter contrast to the Obamas’ grace, we have the Trump White House, which is seeking to “eliminate NASA Office of Education, National Endowment for the Arts, 5 Earth Science Missions, NASA WFIRST, & Corporation for Public Broadcasting.” But her emails! (via Twitter)
    • Watch this delightful video of Chadwick Boseman and Danai Gurira putting their hands into Vanity Fair’s “fear box,” where they encounter such terrors as guinea pigs, lizards, and grapes.
    • Wonder Woman is now available to watch on HBO! Rejoice! (via Gal Gadot on Twitter)
    • Speaking of Black Panther, it’s tracking for a jaw-dropping $165 million opening weekend. (via
    • More wisdom from Judy Blume at 80. There can never, ever be enough Judy Blume. (via NPR)
    • Reports say that Zack Snyder may have been fired from Justice League, on a much earlier timeline than the one that we saw reported last May—when Snyder announced he was stepping down to attend to personal matters. (via Collider)

So what’d you spot today?

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.