The internet is enthralled by the Obamas' official portraits

Artist Kehinde Wiley and Barack Obama participate in the unveiling of Obama's portrait. REUTERS  Jim Bourg

The background for Mr. Obama's painting is not a dark, solid color, but rather a lush bed of bright green leaves, with his chair nearly suspended in midair. "You exist in our minds and our hearts in the way that you do because we can see ourselves in you", Sherald said.

America's 44th president revealed that "like Michelle, I have never had a painting done of myself", and that no one in his family tree had, either, as far as he could tell.

President Obama's portrait is a break from tradition. "I'm also thinking of all the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who ... will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution", she said. How was she chosen? If Wiley's impulse was to elevate his subjects, how would he depict the most powerful of people? "It really came down to, 'OK, Kehinde, you really do a type of transformation". People took photos, of course, but they also stood and stared in reverie. After the unveiling, Combs tweeted a mock up of the work, without Obama in the chair. The New Yorker also picked up on how the various flowers represented the former president's roots-blue lilies (Kenya), jasmines (Hawaii), and chrysanthemums (Chicago).

Amy Sherald took a different approach to Michelle Obama's portrait.

Sherald's strength is in teasing out the crux of a person, and she's very good at exposing a subject's most intimate truth through subliminal signaling.

That said, these two quotes would seem to more than meet the burden of proof that Fox News typically applies to stories about how Barack Obama (and/or, black artists he favored) degraded the office of the presidency.

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To place the pieces in their artistic and political context, I spoke to Richard J. Powell, a professor of art and art history at Duke University and an expert in the history of black portraiture. They truly must be seen - at least online - to fully appreciate.

Wiley is a Yale-educated painter who's highly regarded for his work. "And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls". She was the first one to hug the Queen of England, she was featured in a Carpool Karaoke with Missy Elliott, she was black. In this way, Sherald wondrously troubles assumptions about blackness and representation in portraiture.

Controversy surrounding Kehinde Wiley's wildly non-traditional portrait of the Commander-in-Chief broke out within minutes of its unveiling; with industry insiders claiming the artist secretly inserted his trademark technique-concealing images of sperm within his paintings.

This, of course, was not the first time Smith had the opportunity to dress Michelle Obama, in fact, Meredith Koop, the former first lady's stylist, often reached out to the Milly brand.

But ultimately, it presents something new.

"The more I look at it, the more I love it".

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