Portraits of President Obama and Former First Lady Are Lauded and Ridiculed on the Internet

Playing Official Portraits for Barack and Michelle Obama Unveiled

There was stunned reaction from onlookers as the official portrait of President Obama was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery. 

It shows the president seated in front of a wall of leaves and flowers and was was painted by Kehinde Wiley, an artist best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African-Americans. 

Wiley said he used paintings of ivy and various flowers from Illinois, Kenya and Hawaii, which the artist says charts the 44th president’s "path on Earth through those plants that weave their way to the foreground."

The room cheered after Wiley and Obama pulled down the curtain to unveil the portrait. 

But there was a mixed reaction to the portrait of Michelle Obama, which was painted by Amy Sherald. 

The room applauded again as artist Amy Sherald unveiled her painting of Mrs. Obama.  

The former first lady appeared to be impressed, saying, “Let's just start by saying 'wow' again! Let's just take a minute. It's amazing. Wow!” 

President Obama joked about how old he looks in his portrait.

“I tried to negotiate less grey hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow him to do what I asked," he joked. "I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well."

Social media was flooded with critiques of the art, with one Twitter user comparing the painting of President Obama with Beyoncé’s flowery birth announcement. 

Michelle Obama’s portrait drew a much more scathing reaction online. 

“Like a sketch by a third grader,” one Twitter user wrote. 

“Clearly the artist drew someone else,” another said.

The gray skin tone is a part of Sherald's signature style. 

Inside Edition viewers weighed in on their feelings on the portraits. 

In a poll, 53 percent said they liked Michelle Obama’s painting while 47 percent did not.

As for President Obama's portrait, 75 percent of voters had a favorable opinion, while 25 percent were unimpressed. 

President Obama said he loves the painting of his wife. 

“I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm — and the hotness — of the woman that I love,” he said. 

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