Thursday, September 29, 2022
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Obama returns to the White House for portrait presentation

Washington — Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama return to the White House on Wednesday for the formal unveiling of their official White House portraits.

President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host the couple in what marks Michelle Obama’s first visit to the White House since her husband left office in 2017. visited the White House in April for a celebration of the anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Artist Robert McCurdy painted President Obama. Artist Sharon Sprung painted Mrs. Obama.

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The old White House portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama.

Robert McCurdy and Sharon Sprung / Obama Foundation


The former president’s portrait shows him in a black suit and gray tie, in a highly realistic-looking portrait derived from photographs McCurdy took. The portrait of Mrs. Obama shows her in a blue dress, sitting on a red sofa in the Red Room. Her portrait is also entirely based on the photos she took.

McCurdy said the “marathon” process took about 18 months, while Sprung said he worked on nothing more than the portrait of Michelle Obama for eight or nine months.

Both had the viewer in mind while painting.

“I wanted people to walk by the painting and recognize it, or be even more curious about it or read more about it, but to get it,” Sprung said in a video about the process.

“How the painting is constructed is completely up to the viewer,” McCurdy said in the video.

In the video, Sprung described how painting is a journey.

“I don’t know how my paintings are going to turn out,” Sprung said. “You just go with your feelings all the time, and right now I have enough confidence in myself as a painter to do that.”

presidents usually house their predecessors to unveil their formal portraits, but former President Trump upended that tradition by refusing to welcome the Obamas to the White House during his tenure. The Obamas hosted former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, at the White House in 2012.

Former presidents and first ladies typically have two full official portraits upon leaving office. One set hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, while the other enters the White House Historical Association collection for display at the White House. Portraits of the Obamas at the National Portrait Gallery were completed in 2018.

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