Kirsters Baish| It’s not unusual that upon a President and First Lady leaving the White House, portraits are commissioned of the pair. The portraits are then displayed at the Smithsonian Museum’s National Portrait Gallery. CNN reported that official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama were displayed to the public on Monday during a small ceremony that took place in Washington.
The portrait of former President Barack Obama showed the 44th president sitting in a wooden chair in front of a background of greenery and flowers. The portrait was created by an artist named Kehinde Wiley. Wiley has become the first black artist to paint an official presidential portrait for the Smithsonian’s gallery.
?? Former US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand before their portraits and respective artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, after an unveiling #Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery #Washington ? @saulloeb #AFP pic.twitter.com/iTno9p59lZ
— AFP Photo (@AFPphoto) February 12, 2018
The New York Times reported that Barack Obama had hand chosen Wiley as the one to paint his portrait back in October of 2017. This came after Obama looked through the portfolios of at least 20 different artists.
Wiley has made a name for himself as the artist who adapts classic pieces of art into modern-day. He uses young “urban” men and women in regal positions and poses with bold and patterned backgrounds.
Wiley’s rendition of the late pop sensation Michael Jackson shows the singer on top of a horse. The horse painting was meant to bare resemblance to the classic portrait painting of Spain’s King Phillip II. In the original, King Phillip II is seen on top of a white charger with a battle scene behind him.
There are some other pieces in Wiley’s portfolio, however, that have been modernized from classics but are not as absurd. In fact, they are much more grim and seem to push the issue of racial violence.
The Daily Caller reported that Wiley has put out two paintings that have similarities and seem to go off of the story of Judith’s beheading of Holofernes. This story can be found in the Book of Judith.
In the story of Judith’s beheading of Holofernes, which is part of the Catholic Bible proper, a Jewish woman named Judith seduced an Assyrian general named Holofernes. She then beheaded the general who was out to kill her people. The story has been portrayed in classical artwork multiple times in the past.
Wiley’s version of the portrait shows Judith as a black woman rather than a Hebrew woman. The decapitated head of Holofernes is actually that of a female… and you guessed it, she’s white.
Conservative Tribune reported:
As acolytes of the former president are quick to remind us, Obama was supposed to have bridged the racial divide in this country with his election. Unfortunately, his tenure in office only served to broaden that gap and leave racial tensions even worse than they were prior to his entering the White House.
The fact that he specifically chose an artist to paint his official portrait who has in the past depicted a proud black woman holding aloft the severed head of a white woman will do nothing to alleviate that perception — and could conceivably make things worse.
Take a moment to think what would have happened if President Trump were to commission an artist to paint a portrait of him and that artist was known for painting images of white people holding the heads of blacks. The double standard days of politics are over.