Until recently, I never really noticed the official portraits of the president’s of the United States of America before. Did you know that former President Richard Nixon’s portrait was painted by Norman Rockwell? That’s actually pretty comical. You might recognize the name of painter, Chuck Close, who did the scary pixelated portrait of former President Bill Clinton.
And my favorite is the portrait of FDR, painted by Douglas Chandor. I like all the hands, the pencil drawing in the corner, the simple background, the rich depth of color, and how the suit was painted.
Portrait Painter Kehinde Wiley
The most recent presidential portrait of former President Barack Obama was painted by the talented Kehinde Wiley. I read an article on variety.com that said the background is made of foliage representing his Chicagoan, Hawaiian, and Kenyan roots. This colorful 7′ tall portrait made me curious about the artist.
A Combo of High Renaissance, late French Rococo, and the 19th century
I looked him up and discovered some really impressive artwork. His skill shows that he has a lot of training. He often recreates artwork from historical master painters, and updates them according to the statements he wants to make. I like his version of Jacques-Louis David’s painting, Napoleon Crossing the Alps.
He used the same composition as the original but with a few changes. In a detail, you can see his humor represented through little sperm swimming around in the background. I love the clothes his random and anonymous subject is wearing. And the gold frame is so impressive. I would hang that in my house.
While his statements are interesting, thought provoking, powerful, and contribute to the final look of his art; I’m really attracted to the visual part of his paintings. Just stare at the two paintings and study them for a while.
His work is intricate, bold, strikingly colorful, powerful, and beautiful. He’s definitely a contemporary artist worth studying. He shows you how to be inspired by other artists and also how to make it your own. He started making strong statements through his artwork while studying at Yale. And he gets to go down in history as a portrait painter for an American President. Check out his confident self portrait of him in his studio at his website.
As always in art and anything really, controversy follows Wiley’s portrait of the former President. I think that’s what makes art great though; it stirs up conversation and ideas.
What do you think about Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Mr. Obama? The former President seemed to like it, and was his usual joking self poking fun at his ears and gray hair, while complimenting the integrity of the painter.
How about that? Pretty sharp. – President Obama, upon viewing his portrait