Painters in Hanoi: An Ethnography of Vietnamese Art

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By Nora Annesley Taylor

Painting has played a significant role in modern Vietnam. Postage stamps, billboards, and annual national exhibitions attest to its fundamental place in a country where painters may be hailed as national heroes and including among their number fervent nationalists, propagandists, even dissidents. Painting is emerging as emblematic of Vietnam, simultaneously a marker of national identity and a commodity in a global trade network. Some artists became millionaires as Vietnamese painting gained prominence in transnational art circuits, but Vietnamese painting is generally overlooked in art history surveys of Southeast Asia. Nora Taylor sets out here to change that.

Drawing on interviews with artists, cultural officers, curators, art critics, and others in Hanoi, Taylor surveys the impact artists have had on Vietnam's intellectual life. The book portrays the complex community of artists, describing their education, the role of the government in the arts, the rise and fall of individual artists, the audience for their work, and how tourism and the international art market have influenced it.

Painters in Hanoi offers a truly innovative perspective on modern Vietnamese history. The book's ethnographic approach, grounded in discussions with artists, critics, and collectors, reveals a diverse art world, making the work of significant interest to anthropologists and art historians as well as students and scholars concerned with interdisciplinary research on culture and society.


Nora Annesley TAYLOR is Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Publication Year: 2009
176 pages, 249mm x 175mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-453-1, Paperback

NUS Press