DOWNTOWN — The official presidential portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama are leaving Washington, D.C., for the first time and making a stop at the Art Institute of Chicago for two months this summer.
Michelle Obama’s hometown and the former president’s adopted hometown is the first stop for the portraits, which hang in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. They will be on display to the public at the Art Institute June 18-Aug. 15.
The other stops in the five-city tour are: Brooklyn Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
But the first stop is Chicago, with the Art Institute planning a host of events around the exhibition.
The Barack Obama portrait, unveiled in 2018, was done by Kehinde Wiley as an oil-on-canvas piece. The artist placed the former president against a backdrop of chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago.
Michelle Obama’s portrait was done by Amy Sherald, who painted the former first lady against a blue backdrop in her oil-on-linen artwork.
Wiley and Sherald are the first African American artists to be commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery for the official portraits of a president or first lady.
The exhibition will mark an Art Institute homecoming for the Obamas. Michelle Obama frequented the museum with her family as child. And the couple went to the Art Institute as part of their first official date in 1989 (they went out for ice cream earlier that summer after a law firm party).
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