Barack and Michelle Obama return to the White House for official portrait unveiling


Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited the White House on Wednesday. Release of official portrait of the White House – marks the revival of a Washington tradition last celebrated ten years ago.

These works, which will hang inside the White House for decades to come, are the first official additions to the White House collection since then-President Barack Obama’s moving, bipartisan unveiling. For George W. Bush and Laura Bush in 2012.

Wednesday’s ceremony in the East Room was a rare occasion for the two presidential administrations to celebrate within 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There, President Joe Biden and Jill his wife Biden are expected to convene high-profile figures from past and present administrations with their own unique perspectives. Having served in both.

It was a tearful ceremony that reflected the two men’s deep mutual respect, in the same room where Obama surprisely presented Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2017. However, according to people involved, there are limits to their friendship.

Stewart McLoughlin, president of the White House Historical Society, told CNN that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the timing of the announcement. It offers.

“Covid hit us two and a half years ago. increase. .

While there are no hard and fast rules about when White House portraits should be unveiled, ceremonies have often been hosted by immediate successors to former presidents. had never been held before.

Details of the work, which will be unveiled Wednesday, are a closely guarded secret, with artists and art movers signing non-disclosure agreements to keep things under wraps before the big day. Having often used art as a tool to express one’s tastes, it’s no surprise that the White House portrait is expected to do the same.

“These portraits will evolve somewhat over time … and I think it’s going to be really exciting,” McLaughlin said in a preview of the upcoming Obama portrait. “This is a magical moment.” I think it’s going to be, I think it’s an evolution of art.”

He continued, “We are now heading into the first third of the 21st century, and in the eyes of most American minds, we see presidential portraits as these very traditional 19 I think we see it as a portrait of the look and feel of the century. But art and tastes in art evolve and change.”

Living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Obamas decided to showcase contemporary and contemporary artists.

A painting by Robert Rauschenberg replaced a portrait of Roosevelt in the family dining room. Works by Mark Rothko and Josef Albers were installed.and Michelle Obama Alma Thomas – First black female artist in the White House Collection.

Since leaving the presidency, the Obamas have staked part of their post-White House careers on tastemaking — producing podcasts and award-winning moviesas well as curating a playlist and book list each year.

for them Portrait published in 2018 At the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (not to be confused with the new official White House portrait unveiled this week), the Obamas have selected two black artists for their unique perspectives on African-American portraiture.

Amy Sherard, who painted the first lady’s Smithsonian portrait, defied racial conventions by painting her skin in shades of gray. Her Kehinde Wiley, who painted the former president, revisits the paintings of Old Her Masters with black subjects.

Traditionally, the two newest sets of presidential portraits sit in the Cross Hall at the White House, but Trump chose to move the Bush and Clinton portraits to storage after disputes with both families. Did.

Biden put a Bush portrait and a Clinton portrait back in the cross hall, but with a new Obama portrait, Clinton may have to move soon.

The Obamas’ return to the White House marks a rare moment in which the current and past administrations come together to reflect on a president’s legacy.

Unlike the 2012 unveiling ceremony, Wednesday’s event attracts attendees primarily from the same political party. Some participants have ties to both regimes.

Family, friends, former cabinet ministers and top government staff will join the Obama family at the unveiling.

Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, who lived in the White House mansion during her presidency, will attend the ceremony, Obama told CNN, while daughters Malia and Sasha will join the parents. No plans.

Other scheduled attendees include President Obama’s former Chief of Staff (and current U.S. Ambassador to Japan) Rahm Emanuel, former senior adviser David Axelrod, former Treasury secretaries Jack Lew and Timothy Geithner, former health and human services Includes Chief Executive Kathleen Sebelius and former Attorney General Eric Holder. , former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former Director of the Management and Budget Sean Donovan, and former White House Press Secretary Josh Ernest.

former president obama Has been visiting the White House since Biden took officebut Wednesday’s event marks the first time Michelle Obama has returned to the building since Trump’s arrival in January 2017.

Biden and Obama developed a close relationship when they held public office together, but their friendship has its limits. A person familiar with the matter said.

After working in Obama’s shadow for two terms, Biden has at times tried to differentiate himself from his predecessor. Officials say there is also some degree of rivalry between the two men.

Their history is one of partnership, and colored by various little things that have survived or been recognized.

Obama has refused to endorse Biden over other Democrats in the 2020 primary. Four years ago, Obama saw Hillary Clinton as his Democratic successor, and Biden decided not to run in the face of his son’s death.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the unveiling would become a lasting symbol of “the power of hope and change” in the White House.

Emphasizing the close relationship between the two presidents, Jean-Pierre said, “During their eight years in office together, a close partnership between the two has grown through the ups and downs of work and life.” rice field.

The White House Historical Society is in the “early stages” of the portrait process of President Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump, McLoughlin said.

“There is a focus on specific artists who are likely to paint portraits,” McLoughlin added.

A source familiar with the situation told CNN that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida mansion, has sparked talk of a portrait in the past six months, with the former president recently sitting down for a photo op. . However, it’s not clear if Trump posed for the White House portraitist or for a portrait-exclusive photo.

On Tuesday, Jean-Pierre declined to say whether Biden would give Trump an invitation if his portrait was completed during the Biden administration.

Official White House portraits are typically funded by WHHA, while a series of other portraits have been created for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Underwritten by Trump’s political donors.

According to Smithsonian chief spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas, Trump’s Political Action Committee donated $650,000 to the Smithsonian Institution in July to help it undertake a portrait of Trump.

The donation from President Trump’s Save America Leadership PAC is the first since the Political Action Committee began raising private funds for the president’s portrait. Said.

A donation of $100,000 from another individual also helped pay for the costs associated with the portrait, St. Thomas said. A total of $750,000 will be used for artist fees, shipping, framing, installation and the event.


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