Neel’s portraits reflect the different communities of Manhattan, where she lived and worked, as well as her strong left-wing social consciousness. In 1965, the year Lyndon B. Johnson decided on a radical increase of ground forces in South Vietnam, Neel met James Hunter by chance and asked him to sit for a portrait. The young man had just been drafted for the Vietnam War and was scheduled to leave within a week. Following her usual practice, Neel started to outline the body directly on the canvas and then filled in parts of the head and hands. When Hunter did not return for their second sitting, Neel declared the work complete in its unfinished state by signing it on the back. The portrait was first shown at the retrospective of the artist’s work held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1974.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible," March 18–September 4, 2016.