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"Ok, now draw me like I'm sitting in a large hedge". A political gossip reporter seated near me said she spotted "Axelrod and Earnest" (former White House staffers David and Josh, respectively) and Michelle Obama's eyebrow person.

The far-right internet spent yesterday hurling faux outrage at Kehinde Wiley, the artist who painted Barack Obama's presidential portrait, with one internet personality going so far as to smear Wiley as a "white genocide fetish artist".

It's also been revealed that the backdrop on the 44th president's portrait - by artist Kehinde Wiley - is filled with symbolism of his upbringing.

What do you think of Michelle Obama's portrait dress?

Cillizza: My first reaction to the portrait was that it didn't look like Michelle Obama.

The article itself details Obama portrait artist Kehinde Wiley's past use of what the New York Times has described as "rich textile or wallpaper backgrounds whose patterns he has likened to abstractions of sperm".

Like most of Sherald's work, her interpretation of Mrs. Obama is soft and nearly dreamlike (many have criticized Sherald's portrayal as having little resemblance to the first lady).

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Dr. Eugene Gu, a columnist for The Hill, agreed, tweeting: "Michelle Obama is an elegant lady and the portrait looks nice". The former president praised the artist's efforts and acknowledged the significance that art has on American culture.

Both paintings will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, part of the national Smithsonian museums, in Washington, D.C.

Michelle is a great-great-granddaughter of slaves, a fact she always said in her eight years in the White House to demonstrate the hard progress of her ethnic group. "'I've got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon, '" he said with a laugh. One wonders what the sitter divulged to the portraitist, who has experienced her own trials-deaths in the family, a heart transplant. Wiley is well-known for his depictions of African Americans in grandiose settings, and Obama joked that he had to ask him to tone it down for the piece.

And Sherald doesn't make the kind of portraits you see hanging in boardrooms or above the fireplace mantle in the homes of the 1%.

"From the greenery sprout flowers that have symbolic meaning for the sitter". We'd also love to know your thoughts and perspective on these paintings.

These official portraits are not destined for the White House; that's a different gig.

However, beyond the appreciative tweets and crude critiques, it would appear that Mrs. Obama's portrait isn't just a work of art, but a political message reflecting where the USA now stands, one year after the former president's departure and the beginning of President Donald Trump's brazen reign.


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