Barack and Michelle Obama unveiled their official portraits on Monday—and the response was… mixed, to say the least.
The portrait of former President Obama featured him sitting in a chair against a flat backdrop of ivy and flowers, painted by African-American painter Kehinde Wiley. It was a strange enough for a presidential portrait that even CNN declared it to be a portrait of “the lonely president.”
“On this antique wooden chair, Barack Obama could have parachuted in from the Oval Office — this isn’t exactly garden furniture,” CNN wrote. “The greenery of the backdrop shows us Obama’s vitality and global connectedness — but the man himself feels still stuck at his desk.”
But the response was even more brutal for Michelle Obama’s portrait. Painted by Baltimore artist Amy Sherald, the portrait featured a flattened Mrs. Obama, with gray skin, kneeling in front of a gray backdrop.
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?”
Dr. Eugene Gu, a columnist for The Hill, agreed, tweeting: ““Michelle Obama is an elegant lady and the portrait looks nice. But clearly, the artist drew someone else.”
Ben Shapiro, of the Daily Wire, was even more pointed in his criticism—captioning a piece of abstract art with, “LOVE the new portrait of Michelle Obama.”
Both paintings will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, part of the national Smithsonian museums, in Washington, D.C.