The Year of the Rat is the first in the Chinese astrological cycle (as Aries is in the Western cycle), so Rat years are supposed to be times of new beginnings and fresh starts. No matter how devoutly rational one’s framework, you have to admit it would be a *great* omen if that were true in 2020!
From June 2021 to May 2022 @BarackObama and @MichelleObama portraits now at @smithsoniannpg will be on tour at @artinstitutechi @brooklynmuseum @LACMA @HighMuseumofArt @MFAH #ObamaPortraitsTour #touringexhibition #exhibitionexchange https://t.co/oWP8cuEPsy
— ICEE ICOM (@ICEE_ICOM) January 23, 2020
Speaking of pleasant omens, the official Obama portraits are going on tour. Per the Washington Post:
… The paintings of former president Barack Obama — by Kehinde Wiley — and first lady Michelle Obama — by Amy Sherald — have attracted record crowds to the National Portrait Gallery. Starting in June 2021, the portraits will travel to five cities, giving new audiences a chance to experience them.
“We’re a history museum and an art museum, and they are really great representations of both. This tour is an opportunity for audiences in different parts of the country to witness how portraiture can engage people,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, the museum that commissioned the works. “You can use these portraits as a portal to all sorts of conversations.”
The tour will begin at the Art Institute of Chicago (June 18-Aug. 15, 2021) before moving to the Brooklyn Museum (Aug. 27-Oct. 24, 2021), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Nov. 5-Jan. 2, 2022), the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (Jan. 14-March 13, 2022) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (March 25-May 30, 2022).
The cities were selected by the gallery for personal and geographical reasons. The Obamas have deep connections to Chicago, for example, and the works will be there when the former president celebrates his 60th birthday. Sherald grew up in Georgia, and Wiley was born in Los Angeles, so those stops made sense, Sajet said. Wiley’s studio is based in Brooklyn, and its museum has several of his works in its collection.
Thursday’s tour announcement coincides with the publication of “The Obama Portraits,” an illustrated book from the Smithsonian Institution and the Princeton University Press that celebrates the portraits and their influence. Wiley and Sherald are the first African American artists to be selected for the gallery’s portraits of a president or first lady, and their paintings have drawn millions to the gallery since their splashy unveiling in February 2018…
I suspect Chicago is gonna throw quite the party, come August 2021!
I haven’t seen the Obama portraits myself yet, but I’m kinda tempted by a visit to Brooklyn. Cliche as it seems, there is frequently something in original artwork that simply can’t be reproduced, even via today’s technology. I’ve been privileged to see both Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey & Black #1 (at the Clark) and an early print of The Great Wave Off Kanagawa (at the MFA) — two of the more widely reproduced / copied works of our age — and in both cases found new facets that I’d never imagined.