Jan 23, 2020

Obama portraits to embark on national tour in 2021

Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will leave Washington, D.C., in 2021 on a national tour of five cities, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The paintings have brought in millions of visitors to the capital's National Portrait Gallery, where they are currently housed.

  • The artists who painted the portraits, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, are the first African American artists to ever be selected to paint gallery portraits of a president or first lady.

The tour schedule:

  • The Art Institute of Chicago: June 18, 2021 through Aug. 15, 2021
  • The Brooklyn Museum (New York City): Aug. 27, 2021 through Oct. 24, 2021
  • The Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Nov. 5, 2021 through Jan. 2, 2022
  • The High Museum of Art (Atlanta): Jan. 14, 2022 through March 13, 2022
  • The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: March 25, 2022 through May 30, 2022

Go deeper: Smithsonian unveils official Obama portraits

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How art can help us understand AI

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Activists and journalists have been telling us for years that we are handing too much of our human autonomy over to machines and algorithms. Now artists have a showcase in the heart of Silicon Valley to highlight concerns around facial recognition, algorithmic bias and automation.

Why it matters: Art and technology have been partners for millennia, as Steve Jobs liked to remind us. But the opening of "Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI" tomorrow at the de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park puts art in the role of technology's questioner, challenger — and sometimes prosecutor.

Democratic candidates lean on Obama in TV ads

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP/ Getty Images

Former President Obama has refrained from endorsing any of the Democratic primary candidates, but that hasn't stopped a slew of the 2020 contenders from invoking the president's image in their campaign ads, Politico reports.

Why it matters: “It’s the perfect visual validation. Voters can recognize Barack Obama in a nano-second,” Eric Jaye, Democratic political consultant told Politico. “Obama might as well be on Mt. Rushmore for Democrats. It’s so powerful and instantaneous.”

Obama-produced "American Factory" wins best documentary Oscar

Barack and Michelle Obama close the Obama Foundation Summit, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, October 2018. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

"American Factory," the first Netflix film produced by Barack and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground, won an Oscar for best documentary feature Sunday.

What they're saying: The former president and first lady both tweeted their congratulations to filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, who directed the film, which documents what happened to an Ohio factory after it was reopened by a Chinese billionaire. "So glad to see their heart and honesty recognized — because the best stories are rarely tidy or perfect," Michelle Obama said. "But that's where the truth so often lies."

Go deeper: The Obamas and Netflix reveal details for 7 of their productions