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WASHINGTON D.C. (CBSMiami) — Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are joining other first couples at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
The Obamas’ official portraits were unveiled at the museum Monday morning. It is a rite of passage for most former presidents, all of whom have their portraits hanging in the museum.
The Obamas commissioned two African-American artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald.
“How about that? That’s pretty sharp,” the 44th president said as he took the podium. The portrait depicts him sitting against a backdrop of green foliage.
“I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow (him) to do what I asked,” Obama joked. “I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well.”
Mrs. Obama’s portrait shows her with grey skin tones, which is Sherald’s signature style. She often paints black skin tones in gray as a way to take away the assigned “color” of her subjects.
Michelle Obama said she “was a little overwhelmed, to say the least,” after her portrait was unveiled.
“Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman I love,” President Obama said.
The former first lady said she was thinking about the impact Sherald’s work will have on “girls and girls of color.”
“They will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the walls of this great American institution … And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls,” she said.
The portraits will be open for public viewing on Tuesday.