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Why the Obamas' portrait choices matter

Their picks of an established artist and a relative unknown to paint their likenesses for the Smithsonian will shine a light on the state of American art

Kehinde Wiley, who is 40 and known for his art-historically savvy portraits of young black men and women, has been on collectors' must-have lists for more than a decade.


BARACK and Michelle Obama don't like to waste an opportunity, in word or action, to make larger points about contemporary life and culture.

In that vein, their choices of artists for their official portraits in the collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery...

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