Home NEWS Six Striking Facts About Kehinde Wiley, The Nigerian-American Artist Who Painted Barack...

Six Striking Facts About Kehinde Wiley, The Nigerian-American Artist Who Painted Barack Obama’s Official Portrait


Yesterday, President Barack Obama‘s official portrait was unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. It was record-breaking for a number of reasons: one, it would be the first time an African-American president’s portrait would be hung in the gallery; second, it would also be the first time an American president’s official portrait would be painted by a black American.

This is all the more amazing because the artist in question, Kehinde Wiley is of Nigerian descent.

So, who is Kehinde Wiley? Here are six things we found out about the super talented artist.

1. Birth: He was born in South Central, Los Angeles in 1977 to an American mother and an *absent Nigerian father.

2. Education: Kehinde took his first Art lesson at age 11, and later on attended the San Francisco Art Institute, and studied art in graduate school at Yale.


3. Beyonce: The singer’s iconic maternity shoot is believed to have been heavily influenced by Kehinde’s work.

4. Jay-Z: Kehinde made an appearance in Jay-Z’s 6-hour marathon performance of his song “Picasso Baby”.

5. Famous Muses: Kehinde has painted some of the most famous black people in the world including Michael Jackson, LL Cool J, Ice T and  more.

6. Sexuality: Kehinde identifies as gay.

The National Portrait Gallery’s tradition of commissioning presidential portraits began with George HW Bush.

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