Early Abstract and Modernist Painting

Jamie Wyeth (b. 1946)

Kalounna in Frogtown, 1986

Oil on Masonite, 36 x 50 1/8 in. (91.4 x 127.3 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.163

The son and grandson of important artists, Jamie Wyeth started to paint at a very young age. He continued their tradition of realist painting and often found inspiration in rural Pennsylvania and Maine. He is known for his immersive approach to portraiture, trying to “become” the person he depicts. A young boy, seeming at once fragile and defiant, dominates this large composition,. One hand is clenched in a fist while the other is tense and open. His name is Kalounna, and his parents, refugees from Laos, worked as caretakers on the Wyeth farm. His red T-shirt echoes the red trailer truck to the right and red shutters in the background. The shirt features the logo of the popular television series Dallas and may suggest the boy’s desire to assimilate to his newly adopted country. Painted in Frogtown, Pennsylvania, this highly detailed canvas evokes the tensions between nature and machine, childhood and adolescence, and native and foreign.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.