Capturing Legends

The official White House portrait of President Barack Obama, by MICA alum Robert McCurdy ’74 (General Fine Arts BFA), was unveiled on September 7, 2022.

When Robert McCurdy ’74 (General Fine Arts BFA) was revealed as the artist behind President Barack Obama’s official White House portrait last month, he joined an exclusive list of MICA alumni commissioned to paint modern political icons.

Those alumni include Amy Sherald ’04 (LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting MFA), who was commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery for its official portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, and Jerrell Gibbs ’20 (LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting MFA), who painted the official portrait of the late Maryland congressman and civil rights activist Elijah E. Cummings.

Commissioned by the White House Historical Association, the identity of the artist painting Obama’s portrait was kept secret until the official unveiling in the East Room of the White House by President Biden. McCurdy, who is known for his photorealistic oil paintings of notable figures in contemporary history, has painted Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, and Neil Armstrong, in addition to the former president.