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Obama jokes about ears, hair in portrait

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February 13, 2018

Former US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle have helped unveil their official portraits.

The National Portrait Gallery has unveiled portraits of former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, both painted by African-American artists who were personally chosen by the Obamas.

The portraits were unveiled to the public on Monday at the gallery, which is part of the Smithsonian group of museums.

The Obamas made a rare appearance at the event. Among the guests at the event attended by dozens of friends and supporters were former Attorney General Eric Holder and senior adviser David Axelrod.

The gallery has a complete collection of presidential portraits. A second and different set of portraits of the former first couple will eventually hang in the White House.

Barack Obama's portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley, an artist best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African-Americans. For Michelle Obama's portrait, the gallery commissioned Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald, first-prize winner of the Portrait Gallery's 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

Dozens of friends and supporters, including former Attorney General Eric Holder and senior adviser David Axelrod, gathered in the atrium of the gallery for the ceremony. Also expected to attend were Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, and Gayle King. The Obamas were also expected to make a rare appearance.

The portraits will be officially installed and available for public viewing starting on February 13.

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