While some critics complimented Sherald's signature style, which included her trademark "grayscale", others thought Obama's floor-length dress, which was reminiscent of the quilts made by a black community in Alabama, was distracting, or worse - that the former first lady's portrait looked nothing like her.
"It was an absolute honor to work on Mrs. Obama's dress for her official presidential portrait".
"Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and the intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman that I love", he said.
Both Wiley and Sherald are portraitists who specialize in painting African Americans and in rendering aspects of black culture.
"I tried to negotiate less grey hair and Kehinde's artistic integrity would not allow him to do what I asked", Obama said in tongue-in-cheek fashion.
"I tried to negotiate smaller ears".
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Sherald, who won the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever prize in 2016, has painted Michelle Obama's face in the gray tones of an old black-and-white photograph, set against a preternaturally bright background, a technique she has used to introduce a heightened sense of the surreal in many of her works. "Reminds me to hope". Wiley is also the artist behind one of the Detroit Institute of Art's most memorable works, called "Officer of the Hussars", which shows a young and modern African American man atop a white horse rearing as a Napoleonic steed.
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama by Amy Sherald / Oil on linen, 2018 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. "Established artists don't need commissions; Mrs. Obama's selection of Sherald, however, will have a major impact on her career right when she needs it".
The Portrait Gallery's tradition of commissioning presidential portraits began with President George HW Bush.
"I had to explain that I've got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon", he said jokingly.
The former first lady expressed she was a little overwhelmed that her "amazing portrait" would hang among "so many iconic figures".
Sherald was 30 years old, finishing graduate school and training for a triathlon in 2004 when she chose to see a doctor.
The artist said, "I paint American people, and I tell American stories through the paintings I create".