The Smithsonian Channel To Debut New Documentary, ‘Picturing The Obamas’


Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama will now be the focus of an upcoming documentary set to debut on the Smithsonian Channel later this month.

According to Deadline, Picturing the Obamas will highlight the impact and influence of the presidential portraits through the perspectives of curators, journalists and art critics. The two-hour special premieres on September 10.

The paintings of the Obamas were created by world-renowned artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. After first being unveiled in 2018, the portraits traveled to several museums throughout the country almost three years later. Smithsonian’s new documentary will chronicle the journey and includes interviews with the former President and First Lady, the artists, gallery curators, attendees, and more.

The Smithsonian Channel To Debut New Documentary, ‘Picturing The Obamas’
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 12: Former President Barack Obama walks by his presidential portrait as he and former First Lady Michelle Obama have their portraits unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery on Monday February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. The former President’s portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley while the former First Lady’s portrait was painted by Amy Sherald. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“Barack and Michelle Obama continue to inspire individuals and communities nationwide,” said Pamela Aguilar, VP, Content & Programming, Smithsonian Channel. “We are honored to have the opportunity to premiere Picturing the Obamas and explore the cultural impact of their portraits at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and this historic presidency.”

The documentary will premiere just a few days after President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden officially reveal the portraits during a public ceremony at the White House.

“When we unveiled the Obamas’ portraits, everyone in the room knew we were witnessing a moment in history,” said Kim Sajet, Director of Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. “But I don’t think anyone anticipated the emotional impact these artworks would ultimately have on so many Americans across the country. Through the power of documentary film, Picturing the Obamas takes us out of the gallery and into communities, reminding us that art is powerful, and portraiture can change the world.”

Picturing the Obamas will air Saturday, September 10 at 8pm/7pm CST. The documentary is executive produced by Tim Evans, alongside Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren of Field Studio.


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