Why exactly did Barack Obama choose Kehinde Wiley to paint his presidential portrait? Kehinde Wiley has a habit of painting black people holding knives and the freshly severed heads of white people. Sick! pic.twitter.com/bpjVqahkkD
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) February 12, 2018
Many white conservatives are questioning why former President Barack Obama chose Black artist Kehinde Wiley to paint his presidential portrait and are claiming Wiley’s past works of art depict racism.
Stefan Molyneux, a white conservative podcaster tweeted, “Kehinde Wiley has a habit of painting black people holding knives and the freshly severed heads of white people.”
This artist is racist. A black woman decapitating a white woman with flowers in the background definitely does not depict religious art. I find it extremely offensive. Galleries around the world have violent scenes in religious history, but not of obvious racial hate.
— Vicki K from CA (@VickiK1) February 12, 2018
Molyneux’s assertation and others who agreed with him were quickly checked when someone schooled them about the history of the pose.
Did you know this is a depiction of the story of Judith beheading Holofernes?
That's a story included in the Catholic Bible. The Book of Judith.
It's been painted by dozens of artists over the centuries.
— Greg Gentry (@greggentry1) February 12, 2018
The paintings you’re talking about are variations on Judith and Holofernes. It’s a centuries-old theme in western art. Wiley’s career has been informed by this kind of conversation with the work of white western artists. It must be nice to know nothing. Every day, new surprises!
— jaime_lamond (@jaime_lamond) February 13, 2018
Yet, Molyneux wasn’t the first to blasts the artist’s work as “racist”.
Former Clinton advisor Philippe Reines along with “Eternal Word Television Network” host Raymond Arroyo appeared on Fox New’s “The Ingraham Angle” saying that Wiley’s paintings include “Black women decapitating white women”. They too had to do some homework to understand the historical context of Kehinde’s work.
The paintings are believed to be illustrations of a re-imagined “Bible” story from the deuterocanonical book of Judith beheading Holoferness.
The story stems from the tale of a young widow named Judith who saves her people by seducing and cutting off the head of Holofernes, an Assyrian general. Although there have been many forms of this tale, the only difference is Wiley’s version embodies a Black and white woman. Many of his pieces display Black people at the vanguard of historical events and re-doing classical works involving women such as “Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha,” and “The Two Sisters.” The artist mentioned in a 2006 Vanity Fair interview, “the whole conversation of my work has to do with power and who has it”.
Late Tuesday afternoon Fox News host Sean Hannity also lost his wits about the portrait with a wild theory about sexual innuendo and “secret sperm”. He tweeted, “Obama’s portrait- a stark contrast to predecessors with inappropriate sexual innuendo.”
Hannity even went as far as posting a link to a story on his own website titled “PORTRAIT PERVERSION: Obama Portrait Features ‘SECRET SPERM'”. The article detailed a portion of Obama’s left side of his forehead that Hannity believes is a depiction of sperm swimming around.
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) February 13, 2018
The news host later deleted the tweet & article late Tuesday afternoon and blamed his staff.