Kehinde Wiley Will Paint Barack Obama's Official Presidential Portrait

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the museum in which the portrait will be placed, announced the President's pick.

The Portrait Gallery is now raising funds for the portraits, which will be unveiled in early 2018.

Kehinde Wiley is known for lush, larger-than-life portraits that overlay black street culture with European classical motifs. The Smithsonian's announcement notes that the former first couple chose the artists themselves.

Wiley was born to a Yoruba father and an African-American mother in Los Angeles, California, 1977.

While they are not the first ever to paint presidential portraits (the White House commissioned black artist, Simmie Knox, to paint the Clintons in 2000), their selection still makes history.

Kehinde Wiley, well known for portraits of young black men that incorporate elements of Western art, will paint the former president.

She uses a gray-scale in her life-sized oil paintings of African American people.

The director of the Smithsonian, Kim Sajet, released a statement about the exciting project, saying, 'The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former President and First Lady. He employs distinctive patterns to "complement his realistic, yet expressive, likenesses". Previous subjects of his paintings have included the Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Michael Jackson, and others.

Sherald is also the first African American and first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

  • Marlene Weaver