‘A play on the ‘kill whitey’ thing’: Obama portrait artist painted white women beheaded by black women

On Monday, Jon Levine reported at The Wrap that Kehinde Wiley, the artist who created the portrait of former President Barack Obama, made history when he became the first African American to paint an official presidential portrait.  But, Levine said, he’s also known for painting pictures of black women beheading white women.

“Two paintings from 2012, depicting the Biblical story of Judith beheading the Assyrian general Holofernes, began making the rounds online on Monday. In Wiley’s rendering, Judith is depicted as a black woman and Holofernes as a white woman,” Levine said.

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One art critic wrote:

This art piece “Judith Beheading Holofernes,” 2012, Kehinde Wiley, places Women of Color, specifically a Black woman in a position of power (and majesty). This is so important because of the racism and sexism that Women of Color have historically and continue to face today. (Not to mention other WOC who face marginalization because of other facets of their identity; SES, Queerness, Ability, trauma(s) in addition to this- the list goes on).

A post at 100 Percent Fed Up asked: “Does anyone really believe that the most racially divisive President in recent history arbitrarily chose this ISIS-inspired artist who clearly has an issue with white people?”

The post also notes that the paintings reference a “story in the Book of Judith, which involves a beautiful woman who seduces an invading general before he is able to destroy their land, gets him drunk, and then decapitates him.”

Perhaps, as one friend pointed out to me, he just likes to imitate great works of art inserting a black person in place of the white person the original artist intended.

Except for one thing…

As it turns out, the Daily Caller’s Amber Randall looked into this and discovered an answer provided by Wiley himself in a profile published by the New York Magazine.

“It’s sort of a play on the ‘kill whitey’ thing,” he said.



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