Portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama gained ample attention when they were revealed in February 2018 at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington. The colorfully painted portraits will now start an 11-month, five-venue tour starting at the Art Institute of Chicago.  

The tour is expected to draw big crowds. Tickets are based on capacity and have sold out for the rest of June. 

 

There are two artists are Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald.

Wiley is a New York-based portrait painter, who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of African Americans.

Sherald works mostly as a portraitist depicting African Americans in everyday settings, her style includes simplified realism, involving staged photographs of her subjects.

“The Obamas and the museum help define Chicago for people outside Chicago,” The Art Institute’s president and director James Rondeau told the Washington Post.

He explained that the portraits tell a story of “a president and a first lady, a narrative of all the firsts they represent. But seeing them on the wall together, they are perhaps a little more Michelle and Barack Obama. They carry all of the historical precedents, and they carry some of their humanity.”

A representative from NPG estimated that the portraits attracted over four million people in the two years they were on display at the Smithsonian.  

The 2021-22 tour will continue onto the Brooklyn Museum from Aug. 27 to Oct. 24. Then it will head to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from Nov. 7 to Jan. 2. From there it goes to the High Museum of Art Atlanta from Jan. 7 to March 13. It will conclude at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston from March 27 to May 30. 

The museum locations have a connection to the Obamas and the artists.

The Obamas had their first date at the Art Institute of Chicago. Wiley was born in L.A. and is now based in Brooklyn, while Sherald went to college in Atlanta.