PRESIDENTIAL PORTRAITS DEBUT AT THE HIGH.
Don’t wait to book tickets to “The Obama Portraits Tour,” in town Jan. 14-March 20 at the High Museum of Art. Since the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama were unveiled in February 2018 at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the art has sparked an unprecedented response due to both the history-making subjects and the groundbreaking artists.
The exhibition at the High, the exclusive Southeastern venue for the five-city tour, offers the opportunity to examine each portrait up close and snap a photo, with a short video clip as part of the 10-minute gallery experience. Timed tickets ($16.50) are required, and limited walk-up tickets are available daily.
“The Obama portraits are popular in part for what they are not,” says Michael Rooks, the High’s Wieland Family curator of modern and contemporary art.
“They are not images that embody the power of the state, but rather are images that convey the personal power of the subjects. The paintings capture not only the strength and confidence of the president and first lady, but also the intrinsic humanity we share with them.”
In a dramatic departure from traditional portraiture, Kehinde Wiley’s painting of President Obama depicts him seated in a chair with a lush green backdrop dotted with colorful blooms, including chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago. Amy Sherald’s portrait of the former first lady features her in a dazzling white gown with bold geometric patterns, against a light-blue background.
Wiley and Sherald are the first African American artists to be commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to create official portraits of a president or first lady.
“THE OBAMA PORTRAITS TOUR”
Contributing Writer, Simply Buckhead; journalist and graphic designer