The paintings by Amy Sherald and Nigerian-born Kehinde Wiley commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, were revealed at a star-studded event that is a rite of passage for most former American presidents.
"It's all relative. I liked his a lot better than I liked hers", noted former Clinton aide Phillipe Reines, also appearing as a guest on "The Ingraham Angle", as the two chatted with host Laura Ingraham.
"I tried to negotiate less grey hair and Kehinde's artistic integrity would not allow him to do what I asked", Obama said in tongue-in-cheek fashion. Smith added: "It's up to Mrs. Obama to say why she chose this for the portrait, but I would say that it's a very modern, emotional dress with a very womanly, very American spirit". "Struck out on that as well".
"Behold the beauty of Barack and Michelle Obama's official portrait", tweeted @newyorknewart. For example, Wiley included flowers like jasmine to represent Hawaii, Obama's birthplace; African blue lilies for Kenya, the birthplace of his father; and chrysanthemums for Chicago, the birthplace of his political career.
Sherald pained the former first lady in grayscale which was inspired by black and white pictures of African Americans from back in the day.
"They will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the walls of this great American institution", she said. "In the first few seconds of our conversation, I knew she was the one for me".
Among the prominent figures who turned out for the ceremony were film-maker Steven Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, who helped fund the commission of the portraits.
The intimate crowd was a who's who of the Obama administration including former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, all three of Obama's press secretaries, his trusted advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, as well as former Attorney General Eric Holder. Singer John Legend and model Chrissy Teigen were also listed as donors. He deserves the decadence and the opulence of a Kehinde Wiley painting - whose work often depicts black people with an nearly Baroque level of drama, using a lot of color to create images that turn people into heroic royalty. She's not centered in her painting, but rising above the center.
Once a U.S. president's term is finished, it's tradition that their official portraits will be revealed to the public.