The official portraits of former US president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle have been revealed and they are magnificent.
A far, far cry from the dusty portraits of the white men who have come before, the Obama paintings are colourful and filled with flair.
The former president joked about his ears and grey hair and praised Michelle’s “hotness” during the unveiling at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery today.
Watch the unveiling of the portraits in the video below.
The Obamas tapped artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald for the paintings, which will be added to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection of presidential portraits.
For his portrait by Wiley, Obama is depicted sitting in a brown chair with a backdrop of bright green leaves and colourful flowers. Michelle’s painting shows her sitting with one hand under her chin and the other draped across her lap, while wearing a long flowing dress decorated with geometric shapes.
"I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman that I love," Obama said at the event on Monday.
He quipped that Wiley, who painted his portrait, was at a disadvantage because his subject was "less becoming".
"I tried to negotiate less grey hair and Kehinde's artistic integrity would not allow him to do what I asked," Obama said. "I tried to negotiate smaller ears - struck out on that as well."
The Obamas both expressed awe at their portraits, noting that they were the first people in their families to ever sit for an official painting.
Michelle Obama said she hoped the portrait would have an impact on young girls of colour in the years ahead.
"They will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them, hanging on the wall of this great American institution," she said. "I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls."
LISTEN: Amelia Lester takes us inside an Obama White House Christmas Party. Post continues below.
The reaction to the portraits on social media has been overwhelmingly positive.
A select few are criticising the choice to use the artist Wiley, as a number of his previous works depict African Americans holding the decapitated heads of white people.
However, for the most part, the flowery renditions serve as a happy reminder of the presidency that once was.
IDK IF YALL ARE ACTUALLY UNDERSTANDING THAT THIS PRESIDENTIAL PORTRAIT IS EXACTLY THE STATEMENT BARACK OBAMA’S HISTORIC PRESIDENCY DESERVES pic.twitter.com/jTTZj28cls
— monica (@_monicaochoa) February 12, 2018
Barack Obama's portrait shows him not as a self-assured, standard-issue bureaucrat, but as an alert and troubled thinker.
Michelle Obama's portrait overemphasizes an element of couturial spectacle, but also projects a rock-solid cool. https://t.co/tTJuIGWa4d
— The New York Times (@nytimes) 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
uhh, yeah, I think Obama's presidential portrait is wonderful, especially compared to literally every single other president pic.twitter.com/7iMm0hEhgZ
— Logan Rhoades (@LoganRhoades) February 12, 2018
— Artsy (@artsy) February 12, 2018
Obama's new portrait looks awfully familiar... pic.twitter.com/S5wenGJTPq
— Colleen Wordock (@cwordock) February 12, 2018
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