Former US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, returned to the White House on Wednesday, releasing official portraits with a modern vibe in an event that sparked humor and nostalgia for the presidency. his system in the face of today’s fierce political discussions about the survival of democracy.
While her husband joked about his gray hair, big ears and clothes in his portrait, Michelle Obama, a descendant of slaves, said the occasion was more for her than the promise of America is for people like you.
“Barack and Michelle, welcome home,” President Joe Biden announced as the group cheered.
Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president, praised his former boss’s leadership on health care, the economy and immigration and said nothing could have prepared him better to become president. rather than serving with Obama for those eight years.
“It’s always been about doing what’s right,” Biden said.
The portrait of Barack Obama, the 44th and first black president of the United States, is unlike any portrait of his predecessors, nor does Michelle Obama resemble any other. of women who had taken on roles before her.
Barack Obama stands expressionless against a white background, wearing a black suit and gray tie in a portrait by Robert McCurdy that looks more like a large photograph than an oil portrait. Michelle Obama, pursed her lips, is sitting on the sofa in the Red Room in a pale blue strapless dress. She chose artist Sharon Sprung for her portrait.
Scores of former members of the Obama administration have been massively revealed.
Obama noted that some of the people gathered in the East auditorium had begun to form families in the intervening years, and he feigned disappointment “that I have not heard of anyone naming a child Barack.” or Michelle.”
He thanked McCurdy for his work, joking that the artist, who is known for his paintings of public figures from Nelson Mandela to the Dalai Lama, ignored his pleas for less gray hair. and smaller ears.
“By the way, he also told me not to wear a tan,” Obama quipped, referring to the spacious look he created as president in an unfussy suit.
He went on to say his wife was “the best thing about living in the White House”, and thanked Sprung for “capturing everything I loved about Michelle, her grace, her intelligence -” And the truth is she’s fine.”
When it was her turn to speak, Michelle Obama opened with a laugh by saying she had to thank her husband for “such poignant remarks”. He replied, “I won’t run anymore.”
She then gets serious, drawing a connection between the disclosure of the portraits and America’s promise to those from a background like her, a daughter of high-class parents. working class from the South Side of Chicago.
“For me this day is not just about what happened,” she said. “It’s also about what could happen, because a girl like me, she never has to be up there next to Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolley Madison. She doesn’t get to live in this house, and she does. not serve as first lady.”
Michelle Obama said the release of the portraits was a “reminder that there is a place for everyone in this country.”
Tradition holds that the sitting president invites his predecessor back to the White House to publish his portrait, but Donald Trump broke with that custom and did not receive Obama. So Biden scheduled a ceremony for his former boss.
Michelle Obama said that tradition is important “not just to those of us who hold these positions but to everyone who participates in and follows our democracy.”
In a comment that never mentioned Trump but made a point as he continued to challenge defeat in the 2020 election, she said: “You see, the people, they have made their voices heard by their vote, we hold the inauguration to ensure a peaceful transfer of power … and when time runs out, we will move on.”
Artist paints portraits with his ‘makeover’ style
McCurdy, meanwhile, says his “makeover” portraiture helps create a “meeting” between the person in the painting and the person looking at the painting.
McCurdy told the White House Historical Association in an interview with them: “They had a simple white background, no one gestured, no one — no props because we’re not here to tell the story of the person. sitting for them” 1600 sessions audio file.
“We’re here to create an encounter between the viewer and the sitter,” he said. “We say as little about the custodians as possible so viewers can shine on them.”
He works from one photo on his subject, selected from hundreds of photos, and spends at least a year on each portrait. He says he knows he’s done “when it stops bugging me.”
No word yet about Trump portrait
The portrait of Barack Obama is reserved for display in the Great Hall of the White House, which has traditionally housed paintings of the two most recent presidents. Portraits of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush now hang there.
Portraits of Michelle Obama will likely be placed alongside her predecessors along the Ground Floor hallway of the White House, along with Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.
Two Trump spokespersons did not respond to an email request for comment on whether the artists had begun working on White House portraits of Trump and his wife, Melania. However, work is underway on a separate pair of Trump portraits bound for a collection organized by the National Portrait Gallery, a Smithsonian museum.
The White House Historical Society, a nonprofit organization founded by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961 and funded through private donations, and sells books and Christmas decorations every year, helps manage Process of drawing White House portraits. Since the 1960s, the association has paid for most of the portraits in the collection.
Congress purchased the first painting in the collection, by George Washington. Other portraits of early presidents and first ladies often came to the White House as gifts.