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Those White House portraits

The official White House portrait of former President Barack Obama, by Robert McCurdy. (White House Historical Association/White House Collection)

By now you know the story of why the Obamas’ official portraits were only just installed in the White House. Blame our most recent ex-president for yet another failure to observe protocol.

But that aside, I just want to go on record as saying I love the photorealistic painting of President Obama and am only “meh” about Michelle Obama’s portrait. Photorealism in paintings fascinates me. Admittedly much of it these days may be computer assisted, if not actually generated. A shame. I prefer to think nothing but a skilled artist’s hand and brush came between the subject and the canvas. Yet even when I was still in school one could project a picture onto a canvas and essentially just “paint by number.”

There’s a certain warmth in a traditional painting that some think is lacking in photorealism. Given that difference in style, I wouldn’t hang the Obama portrait alongside previous presidential portraits, but I understand they are hung in different locations around the White House rather than together — unless the sitting president chooses to do so.

All previous Presidential and First Lady portraits can be seen at The White House Historical Association.

The White House portrait of Michelle Obama, by Sharon Sprung. (White House Historical Association/White House Collection)
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