The Smithsonian Reveals The Obamas’ Official Portraits — And How Twitter Reacted

The Smithsonian Institute on Monday revealed official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle.

Michelle Obama: As you may have guessed, I don’t think there is anybody in my family who has ever had a portrait done, let alone a portrait that will be hanging in the national gallery. As far as I know, Mom. I’m also thinking about all of the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who in years ahead will come to this place, and they will look up and they will see the image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution.

Barack Obama: How about that? That’s pretty sharp. But what I was always struck by whenever I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our conventional views of power and privilege. The way that he would take extraordinary care and precision in recognizing the beauty, the grace and the dignity of people who are so often invisible in our lives. In my small way that’s part of what I believe politics should be about. It’s not simply celebrating the high and the mighty or expecting that the country unfolds from the top down but rather that it comes from the bottom up. His initial impulse may be in the work was to also elevate me in these settings in partridges and thrones and mounting me on horses. (Laughs) And I had to explain that I’ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napolean. We’ve got to bring it down just a touch.


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