Michelle Obama portrait by Amy Sherald: The critics respond

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Brooklyn-based Wiley was one of more than 20 considered to paint the National Gallery portrait of Obama.

The paintings were revealed Monday at the gallery, which is part of the Smithsonian group of museums.

Long after Obama's presidency, his administration will be remembered through historic media such as those displayed at Smithsonian's gallery. What did the portraits mean to you, particularly if you are African-American or of African descent?

As in Sherald's previous paintings of African American subjects, Michelle Obama appears poised and powerful as she looks down on the viewer.

For Obama's portrait by Wiley, the former president is depicted sitting in a brown chair with a backdrop of bright green leaves and colourful flowers.

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The Wiley portrait of Obama can be seen left, and, at first, it resembles an awkward photoshop.

Most notably, the face Sherald painted didn't quite capture the likeness of the former First Lady-with Fox News asking, "Is that really her?" Both artists are known for painting portraits of African-Americans.

Controversy surrounding Kehinde Wiley's wildly non-traditional portrait of the Commander-in-Chief broke out within minutes of its unveiling; with industry insiders claiming the artist secretly inserted his trademark technique-concealing images of sperm within his paintings.

"This portrait is unbelievable, but I really hope there's another version with the tan suit and a cigarette", one user commented.

"And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives", she continued, "because I was one of those girls". Wiley is well-known for his depictions of African Americans in grandiose settings, and Obama joked that he had to ask him to tone it down for the piece.

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The paintings - Mr. Obama's by Kehinde Wiley and Mrs. Obama's by Amy Sherald - elicited strong reactions for their striking use of colors and the backgrounds in which the Obamas were set.

Much of the criticism focused on that Michelle's looks little or nothing like her and does not represent the image of inner strength projected by the former lady, although the artist faithfully captured her turned arms.

A new take on portraiture was welcome by many art critics and fans alike. Nor are they about you, or how you want to see them. The portraits were commissioned by the Gallery, for Kehinde Wiley to create President Obama's portrait, and Amy Sherald that of Michelle Obama.

"We miss the way those who worked with us on this incredible journey carried yourselves and worked so hard to make this country a better place", he said.

Throughout her eight years in the White House, designers like Derek Lam, Zac Posen, and Prabal Garung have enjoyed the distinct sartorial honor of dressing Michelle Obama.

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