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The former president and first lady made history by - not only posing for the portraits - but by choosing the black artists who made them. I can't tell him to do that to himself.

In contrast to the blunt literalism of those who prefer to interpret these paintings as a celebration of racial violence, art critic Walter Robinson writes that Wiley's take on Judith and Holofernes "suggests, with a jovial brutality, that Judith would prefer to be done with white standards of beauty". At 44, Sherald only recently entered the national spotlight in 2016 when she was selected as the victor of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

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"Very quickly we arrived at the notion: As opposed to creating a type of echo of historical precedence, we should try to clear the table", Wiley says, and "start at ground level to create something that hasn't been seen before". She focuses on the dignity and inner life of the people she paints, and then gives her paintings evocative and sometimes cryptic titles, for example, a painting of a young man wearing an American flag shirt is called, "What's precious inside of him does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence (All American)". The portraits will be available for public viewing starting Tuesday. If Wiley's impulse was to elevate his subjects, how would he depict the most powerful of people? But while most online were thinking of bushes when they saw all the greenery around Obama, Kimmel had another thought.

These paintings were enough to revive the longstanding right-wing meme that Obama is racist against white people and to make Wiley the latest object of the far-right internet's smear machine. "It really came down to, 'OK, Kehinde, you really do a type of transformation". A seatmate snapped, "They said 'We miss you,' what do you think they'd say?" What happens when you're painting the head of the free world? But within the portrait are little clues - chrysanthemums represent Chicago, as that's the official flower of his hometown; jasmine, Hawaii, his birthplace; and African blue lilies, his Kenyan heritage.

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Hours after the article's deletion, Hannity said in a statement provided to TPM by a Fox News representative: "Earlier today my web staff posted content that was not reviewed by me before publication". The face is clearly and accurately that of a serious, stone-faced and thoughtful Obama, one who appears to be sitting and contemplating, "What do I do next?"

The Washington Post caught up with Smith, who started Milly with her husband, Andy Oshrin, just after the portrait viewing. In one hand, she holds a knife. The pattern was also inspired Piet Mondrian's geometric paintings and the quilts created by the women of Gee's Bend in Alabama.

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The unveiling of the Obamas' official portraits this week rightfully has generated the criticism this racist couple richly deserves ("Official Obama portraits unveiled at National Portrait Gallery", Web, Feb. 12). "That's because, as a former president, when you choose an artist to describe your likeness, you have the opportunity to shape, quite literally, how someone sees the office of the American presidency".


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