Pete Souza: photographing the real Barack Obama – by Jonathan Jones

Pete Souza: photographing the real Barack Obama – by Jonathan Jones

Over two historic terms, official White House photographer Pete Souza has chronicled the most intimate, candid and comical moments of Barack Obama’s presidency

Obama and Virginia

The Obamas meet Virginia McLaurin

It was a tale of two Americas. In Las Vegas the casinos were humming with a hell-yes tide that was about to sweep the manic Donald Trump to his most pumped-up victory yet. In Washington DC, civilisation still existed. In the week Trump’s xenophobic bid to be the Republican presidential candidate began to look unstoppable, the man whose Americanness he has questioned was meeting 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin. In Pete Souza’s official White House photograph of their get-together, President Barack Obama cracks a delicious smile as the first lady dances with McLaurin, who was invited to visit the White House in recognition ofcommunity work she has done for decades in the US capital.  

The meeting was also a celebration of Black History Month – and Souza’s picture manages to be both intimate and historic. Here are three African Americans in the White House. The room they are in – the Blue Room – is opulently decorated with gold stars, Empire-style furniture, and a portrait of some grand national father who holds a white handkerchief in his white hand.  [Read more]

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