Barely News: Barack Obama Portrait Artist's Severed-Head 'Art,' Outsourcing Work to China

February 14th, 2018 10:50 PM

MRCTV's Brittany M. Hughes reported Monday that Kehinde Wiley, Barack Obama's official portrait artist, previously created two paintings of black women holding white women's severed heads, making him the art world's equivalent of Donald Trump severed-head comedienne Kathy Griffin. Additionally, Wiley, described in New York Magazine as "possibly the wealthiest painter of his generation," outsources much of "his" painting to China to "cut costs." Establishment press coverage has virtually ignored these components of Wiley's background, but their descriptions of Obama's involvement in selecting him reveal his almost certain awareness of the artist's full portfolio.

Ashraf Khalil at the Associated Press uniquely mentioned Wiley's severed-head paintings Monday in Paragraph 15 of 16:

Obama opponents took the opportunity to take shots at the former president and digitally edit Make America Great Again hats onto the portrait. Others dug into Wiley's previous body of work and found a pair of racially charged paintings that showed black women holding the severed heads of white women.

How dare those "opponents" do research?

A Monday Reuters item of similar length didn't mention Wiley's previous violent works.

AP's Monday timeline coverage only called Wiley "an artist best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African-Americans."

The AP's Khalil reported that the Obamas also did research:

Both artists were personally chosen by the Obamas.

Robin Pogrebin at the New York Times revealed the extent of Barack Obama's due diligence:

Part of what Mr. Obama saw in Mr. Wiley’s work, the former president said, was the capacity to elevate ordinary people to the level of royalty, those “so often out of sight and out of mind.”

“Kehinde lifted them up and gave them a platform and said they belong at the center of American life,” Mr. Obama said. “That was something that moved me deeply ...”

Thus, it's unlikely that Obama was unaware of these two cutting-edge paintings:

Black1 Black2

Times Magazine item described Wiley as "an artist whose stature in the art world comes close to matching Obama’s in politics."

All Times stories on Barack Obama's portrait failed to mention Wiley's severed-head creations.

In April 2012, New York Magazine's Christopher Beam found Wiley noticeably nervous about his outsourcing:

... When I first arrived at his Beijing studio, the assistants had left, and he made me delete the iPhone snapshots I’d taken of the empty space. It’s not that he wants people to believe every brushstroke is his, he says. That they aren’t is public ­knowledge. It’s just a question of boundaries. “I don’t want you to know every aspect of where my hand starts and ends, or how many layers go underneath the skin, or how I got that glow to happen,” he says. “It’s the secret sauce! Get out of my kitchen!”

Producing work in China cuts costs, but not as much as it used to, Wiley says.

Revelations that a foreign country-outsourcing portrait artist for a white president had created paintings showing severed heads of blacks would dominate the news cycle for days.

Cross-posted at