Why the Obamas’ portrait choices matter

An undated handout image of “Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance),” a 2013 oil painting by Amy Sherald. Barack and Michelle Obama have chosen Sherald to paint the former first lady’s likeness for the collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. (Amy Sherald via The New York Times)  — NO SALES; FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH OBAMAS PORTRAITISTS BY ROBERTA SMITH FOR OCT. 16, 2017. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED. —

The Obamas’ choices bring to the spotlight the work of African-American artists and the growing popularity of portraiture as an exploration of gender, race and identity.

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