The acclaimed portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama are now in Chicago for their first stop of a national tour. During the first week of their stay, all Illinois residents can see them for free.
Last year, The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announced that the famous portraits would leave the gallery for the first time as part of a five-city tour. Their scheduled first stop? Our very own Art Institute of Chicago!
Painted by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, the portraits made history when they were unveiled in February of 2018 as the first presidential portraits painted by black artists and have been met with immense acclaim ever since. This tour is part of the Portrait Gallery’s four-year initiative to share its collection with people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit D.C.
“We view the country as our community,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Since the unveiling of these two portraits of the Obamas, the Portrait Gallery has experienced a record number of visitors, not only to view these works in person but to be part of the communal experience of a particular moment in time.” The Portrait Gallery estimates the touring exhibit will reach millions of people nationwide.
The portraits arrived in Chicago on June 18, 2021, and will remain at the museum until Aug 15, 2021. Afterward, they will travel to New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and finally Houston before returning to D.C. The schedule is:
- Art Institute of Chicago, June 18, 2021-August 15, 2021
- Brooklyn Museum, August 27, 2021-October 24, 2021
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art: November 5, 2012-January 2, 2022
- High Museum of Art in Atlanta: January 14, 2022-March 13, 2022
- The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston: March 25, 2022-May 30, 2022
Chicago being the tour’s first stop is no surprise; Michelle is a Chicago native and Barack began his political career in the city.
The exhibition will not only feature the famous portraits but also include audio-visual elements, Portrait Gallery-led teacher workshops, and curatorial presentations. In anticipation of the national tour, the Portrait Gallery will also publish a companion book The Obama Portraits.
Kehinde Wiley painted the oil-on-canvas portrait of President Obama, while Amy Sherald painted the oil-on-linen portrait of the former First Lady.
All June tickets are now on sale and the Art Institute of Chicago has announced Illinois residents can see them for free from Friday, June 18 – Friday, June 25.
[Featured image from Twitter / @ObamaFoundation ]