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LACMA gala will honour Obama portrait artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald

·2-min read
Photo credit: SAUL LOEB - Getty Images
Photo credit: SAUL LOEB - Getty Images

For its 10th-anniversary Art + Film Gala this November, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will honour the powerful work of Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, whose ground-breaking art individually explore notions of race and Black heritage.

Wiley and Sherald are the creators of the highly lauded Obama Portraits, and are the first African Americans in history to be commissioned by the US’ National Portrait Gallery to produce official portraits of a President or First Lady. These will be on display at LACMA from 7 November, alongside a corresponding exhibition, ‘Black American Portraits’, exploring two centuries of Black portraiture curated from the museum’s permanent collection.

Best-known for his canvases rendering Black figures in the form of Old Master paintings, Wiley depicts Barack Obama seated against a vibrant backdrop of meaningful flowers, from jasmine (referencing the President’s childhood state of Hawaii) to African blue lilies (signifying Obama’s Kenyan patrimony).

Photo credit: Mark Wilson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mark Wilson - Getty Images

Sherald’s compelling, figurative paintings document contemporary African American experiences, inviting viewers to engage with narratives of representation; and her work Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama presents the former First Lady elegantly poised, gazing directly at the viewer.

Photo credit: SAUL LOEB - Getty Images
Photo credit: SAUL LOEB - Getty Images

Bringing the worlds of art and cinema together, the museum will celebrate another visual storyteller at the gala: Steven Spielberg, the three-time Oscar-winning film-maker of Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and ET, among a host of other favourites. Spielberg was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 from Barack Obama.

The event, which is sponsored by Gucci, will take place on Saturday 6 November and will be co-chaired by devoted supporters of the museum: the fashion designer Eva Chow and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The glittering evening has long been a draw for Hollywood creatives to gather for a glamorous night of cocktails, speeches and a musical performances – all in celebration of the communicative, revelatory power of the arts.

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