The latest pair of portraits of the Obamas were unveiled last week. This pair was hung in the White House, while the others went to the Smithsonian. Looking at them, I thought:
- All four paintings are great in many ways. They capture the subject well, they are strong images, and they are superbly painted.
- His paintings have an almost surreal quality to them: hers less so. That’s neither a pro nor con, just an observation.
- There is a contrast in the poses. Her hands add to the composition: his not as much. Her body is more engaged, his is neutral.
- His clothing is simple, almost austere. Hers are rich and eye catching.
- One thing that caught my eye was the finish. Both of his paintings have a gloss to them, while hers have a matte finish.
- I like how in one of her paintings, blue is in the background, while in the other, blue is in the foreground.
- Watching a video of the painters of White House paintings, I was struck by how painstaking the work was. It took them months and months to complete. It shows in the painting, but it is also a good reminder to me of how long a great work takes to do.
I am still thinking of them. I’ll come back her later if I have any more insights.
Thanks to this piece in Hyperallergic for the images (links) below.