Barack and Michelle Obama can’t catch a break — not even on the day their official White House portraits were unveiled.Los Angeles native Kehinde Wiley’s painting of the first black president and Amy Sherald’s rendition of the former first lady are raising hackles on the right.
Media Matters noted how previous work by Wiley is being pictured as racist.
“Pro-Trump trolls are smearing Wiley by claiming his rendition of Judith beheading Holofernes, a modern twist on a classical theme including works by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, and others, is a ‘queen’ cutting off the head of a young white child.”
Left out was the context.
“Wiley’s painting was part of a series of portraits of women he entitled An Economy of Grace. The artist is known for remixing ‘classical European art with black urban youth.’
“As Upworthy’s Parker Molloy documented, the smearing seems ‘clearly pretty coordinated’ and the manufactured outrage echoes other stunts pro-Trump trolls have pulled to garner mainstream media attention and shape narratives, like suing over all-women screenings of Wonder Woman, or disrupting a Shakespeare play over its depiction of the murder of Julius Caesar.”
In any case, The Guardian did a good job on Monday’s unveilings at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington.
Wiley said: “In a very symbolic way, what I’m doing is charting his path on earth through those plants that weave their way. There’s a fight going on between he in the foreground and the plants that are trying to announce themselves underneath his feet. Who gets to be the star of the show? The story or the man who inhabits that story?”
Some pro and con reactions
Wait, that Obama painting going around is real?
Thought it was a (hilarious) prank.
How are people supposed to know the difference between real and fake news when stuff like this is actually happening….https://t.co/9PeVDu4wKI
— Mike Cernovich 🇺🇸 (@Cernovich) February 12, 2018
They already selling Obama portrait t-shirts on Crenshaw.
— Travon Free (@Travon) February 12, 2018
The same man (Kehinde Wiley) who drew Obama's portrait also drew this depiction of a "queen" cutting off the head of a young white child. pic.twitter.com/INgMmxH3bG
— 🇮🇱MAGA MATT🇺🇸 (@Millenniel_Matt) February 12, 2018
Why exactly did Barack Obama choose Kehinde Wiley to paint his presidential portrait? Kehinde Wiley has a habit of painting black people holding knives and the freshly severed heads of white people. Sick! pic.twitter.com/bpjVqahkkD
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) February 12, 2018
Michelle Obama's portrait was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery…
Aaaaand it looks nothing like her. pic.twitter.com/EQitllF47w
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) February 12, 2018
Remember: Making fun of Michelle Obama’s ugly portrait is racist. Everything is racist. You racist.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) February 12, 2018
Obama, fading into the Bushes
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) February 12, 2018
Something just seems off about the Obama portrait. Not sure what it is.. pic.twitter.com/rco6gkmEfv
— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) February 12, 2018
I like the Obama portrait a lot, but will admit my first thought was: “Why is he sitting by the outfield wall in Wrigley?”
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 12, 2018
My take on the Obamas official portrait.
— Veterans4🐸 AKA Crumbcollector (@DeplorableJWS) February 12, 2018
Can we talk about how stunningly powerful it is to see a black man in a garden the way Kehinde Wiley painted Barack Obama?!
It dismantles so much and creates new visions of masculinity that black men rarely have the public permission to explore. pic.twitter.com/pwycHtbbDX
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) February 12, 2018
— Jenna Amatulli (@ohheyjenna) February 12, 2018
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