Kehinde Wiley has made history as one of the two first African Americans to paint an official presidential portrait. His painting of former President Barack Obama and Amy Sherald’s painting of Michelle Obama will be held in the national portrait gallery. Many Twitter users have lambasted both as being “embarrassingly bad.” Art is subjective though, and modern art has for years often been pretty bad. This isn’t even the main issue here, though.
Others point out that before the Barack Obama portrait, Kehinde Wiley was famed for his paintings featuring African American women beheading white women. Sure it was a “Biblical theme” in one case (based on the story of Judith beheading Assyrian general Holofernes) but the artist himself admitted to New York magazine it was also “a play on the whole kill whitey thing.”