(L) “Barack Obama” by Kehinde Wiley, oil on canvas, 2019. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; (R) “Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama” by Amy Sherald, oil on linen, 2018. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
The portraits of President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are coming to Brooklyn next year. The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery on Thursday announced a five-city tour for the two popular paintings, including a stop at the Brooklyn Museum in Prospect Heights in the summer of 2021. Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald are the first African American artists selected by the Portrait Gallery for its official portraits of a president or first lady.
According to the museum, the tour involves an audio-visual element, Portrait Gallery-led teacher workshops, and curatorial presentations. The museum is also publishing a book The Obama Portraits, to be released next month.
“Since the unveiling of these two portraits of the Obamas, the Portrait Gallery has experienced a record number of visitors, not only to view these works in person, but to be part of the communal experience of a particular moment in time,” Kim Sajet, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, said.
“This tour is an opportunity for audiences in different parts of the country to witness how portraiture can engage people in the beauty of dialogue and shared experiences.”
This is not the first time portraits from the Washington, D.C. museum have hit the road. The exhibition “Theodore Roosevelt: Icon of the American Century” traveled the country between 1998 and 2000, as did “Portraits of the Presidents from the National Portrait Gallery,” from 2000 to 2005. The Portrait Gallery’s “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart also was displayed at seven venues between 2002 and 2004.
The tour kicks off in the summer of 2021 at the Obamas’ hometown at the Art Institute of Chicago from June 18 to Aug. 15, followed by the Brooklyn Museum from Aug. 27 to Oct. 24, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from Nov. 5 to Jan. 2, 2022, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art from Jan. 14, 2022 to March 13, 2022, and Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts from March 25, 2022 to May 30, 2022.
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