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Vietnamese Propaganda Posters


Vietnam was at war for 3 decades, first against the French, then the Americans and finally the Pol Pot Regime of Cambodia.

These tumultuous events in the history of Vietnam, set against the backdrop of the Cold War, served to stimulate and maintain a flourishing decade of propaganda art that endured into the 1980’s. The legacy the artists left is a body of work that ranges greatly in theme and style, approach and finish. From the technically accomplished to the splendidly naïve, these images often extend beyond conveying a message, becoming art in their own right.  They merit wider exposure and recognition. 

The Ministry of Information established a national ‘art force’ in 1957 to serve the propaganda needs of the then Northern 'Democratic Republic of Vietnam' Government and this art force then functioned under its auspices.
Paraphrasing the well known Leninist dogma, the Minister of Information, Trung Chin, declared: 'Art is only real Art if it becomes propaganda'.  Thus was born one of the singularly most successful propaganda campaigns in history in which propaganda posters, mainly intended for national purposes, played an essential part.
The Vietnamese propaganda posters often move beyond Socialist political dogma, while still serving the purpose of communicating the Government’s fundamental message to the then predominantly rural and difficult to reach population.
Even if relatively little is known of the artists and of their individual contributions, there is a growing recognition of the works’ particular freshness and spontaneous originality, especially compared to the propaganda paintings of other Socialist countries such as China and North Korea, particularly in the period covered by the collection. The only other comparable works can be found in the extraordinary earlier propaganda art of the USSR or in Cuba where creative Propaganda art flourished, in a spirit of socialist idealism perhaps a little helped by the island not being under continuous bombardment. .
Vietnamese artists created their images under the most appalling environment and conditions.  They worked through the horror of the most intensive bombing campaign ever waged and the protracted, bitter land war.

Robert McNamara was America’s Secretary of Defence under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. He was intimately involved in what we call the Vietnam War and what the Vietnamese call “The American War”. Read what he has to say about Vietnam in 1995. It is quite significant.

In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam

Robert McNamara was America’s Secretary of Defence under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. He was intimately involved in what we call the Vietnam War and what the Vietnamese call “The American War”. Read what he has to say about Vietnam in 1995. It is quite significant.

  1. 1.We misjudged then — and we have since — the geopolitical intentions of our adversaries … and we exaggerated the dangers to the United States of their actions.

  2. 2.We viewed the people and leaders of South Vietnam in terms of our own experience … We totally misjudged the political forces within the country.

  3. 3.We underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die for their beliefs and values.

  4. 4.Our misjudgments of friend and foe, alike, reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.

  5. 5.We failed then — and have since — to recognize the limitations of modern, high-technology military equipment, forces, and doctrine. We failed, as well, to adapt our military tactics to the task of winning the hearts and minds of people from a totally different culture.

  6. 6.We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of a large-scale military involvement … before we initiated the action.

  7. 7.After the action got under way, and unanticipated events forced us off our planned course … we did not fully explain what was happening, and why we were doing what we did.

  8. 8.We did not recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient. Our judgment of what is in another people's or country's best interest should be put to the test of open discussion in international forums. We do not have the God-given right to shape every nation in our image or as we choose.

  9. 9.We did not hold to the principle that U.S. military action … should be carried out only in conjunction with multinational forces supported fully (and not merely cosmetically) by the international community.

  10. 10.We failed to recognize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions … At times, we may have to live with an imperfect, untidy world.

  11. 11.Underlying many of these errors lay our failure to organize the top echelons of the executive branch to deal effectively with the extraordinarily complex range of political and military issues.

The images below are silk screens printed on rice paper. Paper size is 40x30cm. These are not original posters but are faithful reproductions produced in Hanoi, Vietnam. If you are interested in originals please contact us.

The price is $49.00 Australian Dollars which includes postage within Australia. To purchase contact art@tuskgallery.com.au or ring (61) 0425 774415/ (61) 3 98273338. We also have them framed to view in our galleries.

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