Portraits of Obamas to begin 5-city USA tour in Chicago

Lawrence Kim
January 25, 2020

The tour begins in the Obamas' hometown of Chicago and makes stops at the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the High Art Museum in Atlanta before coming to Texas.

The acclaimed paintings by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have been a popular destination for visitors at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington since they were unveiled in 2018.

In a 2019 article for The Atlantic, Sajet wrote: "Viewing these paintings was turning into a form of secular pilgrimage, and the museum was becoming even more popular as a communal gathering place".

Sajet described the tour as "an opportunity for audiences in different parts of the country to witness how portraiture can engage people in the beauty of dialogue and shared experience".

The gallery said the two portraits will leave their exhibit in Washington for "tour preparation" in May 2021.

"The Obamas have a really strong connection to Chicago", she said of the city where the Obamas lived before moving to the White House.

The first African-American artists selected for a National Portrait Gallery's official portraits of a president or first lady commission, Wiley and Sherald's portraits became instant sensations when first revealed in early 2018. Along with the artwork, "The Obama Portraits" will feature audio-visual elements, portrait gallery-led teacher workshops, curatorial presentations and an illustrated book, according to the Smithsonian. Wiley chose to depict the President against a thick backdrop of foliage punctuated by floral blossoms, while Sherald pictured the First Lady swathed in a voluminous dress decorated with an Art Deco pattern.

Each location will have the paintings for about two months.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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