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Barack Obama picks gay artist Kehinde Wiley to do his official portrait

October 20, 2017

Former US President Barack Obama has picked the artist to paint his official portrait at the Smithsonian Institution.

The 44th POTUS, who finished his second four year term as president on 20 January, opted for gay artist Kehinde Wiley, the museum announced.

Wiley is renowned for his naturalist paintings of black people in heroic poses.

He often uses vibrant and bold colours in his work to highlight the status of young black people in contemporary culture.

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“‘I’m a gay man who has occasionally drifted,” Wiley said.

“I am not bi. I’ve had perfectly pleasant romances with women, but they weren’t sustainable.

“My passion wasn’t there. I would always be looking at guys.’”

Former First Lady Michelle Obama selected Amy Sherald to do her portrait, a former winner of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

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Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a statement the museum is “absolutely delighted” the artists agreed to paint the official portraits of the couple.

“Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century,” Sajet said.

Smithsonian commissions an official portrait of each president and their spouse.

Two sets of official portraits are made: One for the White House and one for the National Portrait Gallery.

The museum began this practice with former President George H.W. Bush.

More: Barack Obama, kehinde wiley, LGBT, portrait, president, US

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