Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama continue to inspire Americans beyond their time in the White House, and their official portraits are no exception. Standing onstage at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., on Monday morning, the couple watched as their official portraits were unveiled. And while some on Twitter said the paintings inspired a sense of “hope,” Barack couldn’t help but notice his wife’s “hotness.”
Side by side, the portraits of Barack and Michelle painted by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively — each selected by his and her subject — were uncovered in front of an awestruck audience, before the Obamas and the artists took the podium to speak about the art. The collaborative work that went into each of the paintings was revealed in the sentiments of all of the speakers. But the most relatable expression of gratitude came from Barack himself.
“Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman I love,” Barack said with a chuckle, which incited quite the reaction on social media.
Beyond Barack’s charismatic remark, however, are the most important recognitions of how historic these portraits are, and what they’ll mean to America’s youth. Michelle took to her own Instagram after the ceremony to share her gratitude for being recognized in such a remarkable way.
“This is all a little bit overwhelming,” she wrote, “especially when I think about all of the young people who will visit the National Portrait Gallery and see this, including so many young girls and young girls of color who don’t often see their images displayed in beautiful and iconic ways. I am so proud to help make that kind of history.” And people on Twitter couldn’t agree more.
All in all, the historical context of each portrait is important — as are the personal touches on the paintings. While Wiley paid homage to the former president’s origins with each of the flowers in the work’s background, Sherald collaborated with designer Michelle Smith of Milly to portray the former first lady in one of the brand’s gowns.
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