Three Things to Know About Kehinde Wiley, the Artist Behind Barack Obama's New Portrait

From TIME - February 12, 2018

If you didnt know artist Kehinde Wiley before, you will now: Hes the painter behind former President Barack Obamas stunning official portrait, which was unveiled on Monday at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Not only did Obama become the first African-American president to have a portrait hang in the National Portrait Gallery, but Wiley became the first African-American artist to paint an official presidential portrait.

Its a huge responsibility, Wiley told The Guardian in 2017. And though it may have been a humbling duty to paint former President Obama, the painting fits within Wileys cannon: bold and often colorful depictions of men (and recently) women of color in the style of Classical European portraiturea style that has made him both celebrated and successful.

Who is Kehinde Wiley?

Wiley was born South Central, Los Angeles in 1977, where he was raised by a single mother and was one of six siblings. His mother was a linguist, and he grew up surrounded by books. Wiley took his first art lesson at age 11, and at age 12, in 1989, Wiley was one of 50 American children who went to live in Russia at the Center for U.S./U.S.S.R. Initiatives. There, he studied art and Russian language. He eventually attended the San Francisco Art Institute, and studied art in graduate school at Yale.

He is based in New York, but has studios around the world in Beijing and West Africa, where his father is from.

Celebrities associated with Wileyfrom Obama to Beyonc.

Where can you see Kehinde Wileys work?


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