Dutch artist's Obama painting mistaken for official presidential portrait; goes viral

Portrait of Barack Obama, by Amsterdam artist Edwin van den Dikkenberg
http://edwinvandendikkenberg.nl/portfolio/barack-obama/Photo: Edwin van den Dikkenberg

Amsterdam portrait artist Edwin van den Dikkenberg gained some international fame this weekend when his painting of former American president Barack Obama went viral online, mistakenly called Obama's official presidential portrait.

The painting was massively discussed on social media, particularly because it depicts Obama wearing a beige suit. In 2014 the president was criticized for this particular clothing choice, because it was considered not to be presidential enough.

But the painting will not be how Obama is immortalized in the White House's honor gallery, a spokesperson for the 44th President of the United States said on Buzzfeed. He confirmed that the massively shared painting is not the official portrait, but an unofficial painting made by Amsterdam artist Van den Dikkenberg

Van den Dikkenberg himself is a bit stunned by all the attention, he said to Het Parool on Tuesday morning. "I opened my mailbox on Sunday night and was flooded with messages from the United States. I turned out to be a trending topic", he said to the newspaper. "Why my painting was seen as the official portrait, I don't know. If Obama personally gave me the order to capture his likeness on canvas, I would've jumped two meters into the air. But that is not te case."

The Amsterdam artist painted Obama to show off his skills. It pays for a portrait painter to paint famous people, as people are quicker to recognize them and thus the artist's skills. "Obama's portrait was purely meant to be a sort of advertisement for my work." 

"I really had no idea about the fuss", Van den Dikkenberg said about the commotion surrounding the beige suit. "I prefer to paint people live, but it was not possible in this case. So I based my painting on a photo. On it he wore a blue suit, but I found it a boring color. The choice for beige was purely from an artistic point of view."