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 include among their number fervent nationalists, propagandists, even dissidents. As Vietnamese painting has gained prominence in the contemporary transnational art circuits of Southeast Asia, many artists have become millionaires, yet Vietnamese painting is generally overlooked in art history surveys of the region. Nora Taylor sets out here to change that. Painters in Hanoi: An Ethnography of Vietnamese Art engages with twentieth-century Vietnam through its artists and their works, providing a new angle on a country most often portrayed through the lens of war and politics.
“Painters in Hanoi adds important perspectives to the growing body of literature on contemporary Southeast Asian art, as it also illuminates the highly specific political, economic, and social conditions that shape but do not determine that art. Taylor’s deeply satisfying work further erodes unitary notions of an artistic modernity and the authority of Euro-American paradigms of art history and art making to explain art production throughout the world. She convincingly demonstrates that artistic identity never remains stable but is always asserted, tested, defined, and redefined in local and now global social worlds.” —Journal of Asian Studies
July 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3355-8 / $26.00 (PAPER)