The artist who painted former President Barack Obama’s recently unveiled portrait reportedly has a habit of outsourcing some of his work to Chinese painters.
One report by the Los Angeles Times published seven years ago noted that at the time Wiley maintained studios in three cities: New York, Beijing and Dakar, Senegal.
A year after the Times ran this report, New York magazine published a particularly jarring one in which it noted that whenever Wiley worked from Beijing, he relied on outsourced labor to reduce costs.
“Producing work in China cuts costs, but not as much as it used to, Wiley says. These days in Beijing he employs anywhere from four to ten workers, depending on the urgency, plus a studio manager, the American artist Ain Cocke,” the report read.
“When I first arrived at his Beijing studio, the assistants had left, and he made me delete the iPhone snapshots I’d taken of the empty space. It’s not that he wants people to believe every brushstroke is his, he says. That they aren’t is public knowledge. It’s just a question of boundaries.” (emphasis added)
This means “every brushstroke” was obviously not his — and he’s cagey about the actual process. “I don’t want you to know every aspect of where my hand starts and ends,” he told the magazine. – READ MORE[give_form id=”79809″] [divider][/divider]
While traditionalists surely looked quizzically at the contemporary portraits that Barack and Michelle Obama commissioned for display in the National Portrait Gallery, one could count on The Washington Post and The New York Times to explain how wonderfully revolutionary the Obamas were to promote African-American painters to overturn the “bland propriety” of white traditions.
Kehinde Wiley placed a pensive President Obama in a thicket of plants. Amy Sherald pictured Mrs. Obama with a gray skin (her trademark look) and an expansive dress
Washington Post art critic Philip Kennicott’s review was headlined “The Obamas’ portraits are not what you’d expect and that’s why they’re great.” He said “The two portraits render their subjects life-size, which underscores their historical importance and accomplishments.”
New York Times art critic Holland Cotter was mostly pleased:
Mr. Wiley depicts Mr. Obama not as a self-assured, standard-issue bureaucrat, but as an alert and troubled thinker. Ms. Sherald’s image of Mrs. Obama overemphasizes an element of couturial spectacle, but also projects a rock-solid cool. – READ MORE[give_form id=”79809″] [divider][/divider]
Can you imagine if Donald Trump’s official portrait artist painted white women holding the decapitated heads of African-American women?
There would be social chaos.
But as Americans we are supposed to sit back and applaud Obama’s artist for chopping off the heads of white women to be carried like a trophy by African-American women?
Was this artist, Kehinde Wiley, paid with public tax monies to paint Obama’s portrait?
Barack Obama can’t even have his official portrait painted without causing a racial stir.
Wasn’t this the guy who was going to heal America’s racial divide?
No. He only continues to make the situation worse.
This is art?
Former Pres Obama and artist Kehinde Wiley unveil official portrait at National Portrait Gallery. And then takes close-up look. pic.twitter.com/TixPFofWeg
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) February 12, 2018
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As @myhtopoeic points out, Obama has six fingers on the left hand. And I notice NO thumb. The thumb should be on top of that left hand crossed over the right arm. Who the hell was the artist, Mr. Magoo? pic.twitter.com/Dhgszrk5mn
— Thomas Paine (@Thomas1774Paine) February 13, 2018