Art World

The Obamas come to San Francisco

Left to Right: Detail of Barack Obama by Kehinde Wile; Detail of Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama by Amy Sherald. Photo: Courtesy Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

When the Obama por-traits were unveiled in February 2018 at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, they attracted record-breaking crowds and made international headlines. The portraits became a cultural phenomenon, evoking tears from viewers and a sense of camaraderie and community among those waiting hours in line. The museum even published a book about the impact of the portraits.

Now San Franciscans will have their turn to view the work of artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, the first African Americans to be commissioned by the Smithsonian to create the official presidential and first lady portraits. Both artists have addressed the historical lack of Black representation in art history through the genre of portraiture to depict African Americans.

The Obama Portrait Tour: Tue.–Sun., 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m., June 18–Aug. 14, free–$15 (visit website for ticketing details), de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, 415-750-3600,

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