With free admission on four dates in September and October
Whether you love or loathe the Obamas, you have to hand it to them and their handlers—they have significant style. Especially compared to first couples that came before them; as proof, just Google around for the forced goofy photos of Reagan and both Bush guys dressed like John Wayne.
That artistic sense extended by nature to the way creatives interpreted the couple—from the countless film and music tributes channeling the Obama years, directly or indirectly, to paintings and portraits.
Throughout this year, two of the latter have toured around the country, stopping at fine art institutions from Houston to San Francisco via organizers from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Now it’s Boston’s turn, and from Sept. 3 through Oct. 30 the works by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, with free admission to the exhibition for all on Sept. 5, Sept. 19, Oct. 10, and Oct. 30.
More from the MFA below …
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), presents the portraits of former President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, as part of The Obama Portraits Tour organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
The paintings will be on view in the Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery from September 3 through October 30, 2022. To celebrate the portraits’ debut at the MFA, the Museum will engage community partners on a collaborative art-making project that will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition—creating a unique moment for Boston audiences to respond to these captivating paintings of the former President and First Lady, and explore the evolving dynamics of leadership.
“Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald are visionary artists whose paintings both pay homage to and reimagine the centuries-old tradition of American portraiture, which has strong roots in Boston,” Ann and Graham Gund Director Matthew Teitelbaum said in a statement. “It is an honor for us to host their Obama portraits at the MFA and to offer New England audiences a chance to experience these powerful works of art.”
“The Obama Portraits Tour is an opportunity to bring the power of portraiture to different audiences across the nation,” added Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Portraiture is incomplete without the viewer and these paintings have elicited responses that range from deep contemplation to pure joy. We are delighted to be able to extend this experience to San Francisco and Boston for a tour spanning eight cities with the nation’s capital included.”
This won’t be the first time that a famous Obama portrait made its way through Boston. Back in 2009, street artist Shepard Fairey was arrested on his way into his own show at the ICA on an outstanding vandalism-related warrant from years earlier. At the time, Fairey’s “Hope” poster of the president was seemingly on display everywhere in public and around the internet.
Let’s hope things go a little more smoothly this time around.