“Not only do these iconic portraits feature history-making subjects but they were created by groundbreaking artists…The MFAH is excited to provide our visitors the opportunity to experience the power and beauty of these celebrated works in our museum.”Gary Tinterow, Director and Margaret Alkek Williams Chair, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)
Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and unveiled in February of 2018 in the presence of the Obamas, the artists presented two very different visions for the centuries-long tradition of painting political leaders. These two portraits are a striking contrast to the otherwise tame and routine historical portraits of Presidents and First Ladies.
“Wiley placed a seated President Obama–gazing forward to capture the viewer’s attention–against a backdrop of flowers with special significance in the life of the President and his family. Included are chrysanthemums as the official flower of Chicago, jasmine which pays homage to the sitter’s birthplace and upbringing in Hawaii, and purple African lilies which are native to Kenya. Sherald depicted the former First Lady against a light-blue background in contemplative pose. Her dress by Milly designer Michelle Smith carries meaning as well, referring to both the modernist traditions of abstract art and the traditional patterned quilts of Gee’s Bend.”MFAH, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
More information about the exhibition and tours is available on the MFAH website.