The Polyglot Lineage of Vietnamese Propaganda Art

Co Tan Long Chau, Air Defence Team, 1960s battlefield sketch, courtesy Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum

Co Tan Long Chau, “Air Defence Team” (1960s), battlefield sketch, Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

When Ho Chi Minh, the father of current-day Vietnam retreated north to regroup during the French Indochina war of 1946, he was accompanied by a number of artists. The Communist resistance movement spawned a new type of aesthetic based on national identity pitted against imperialism and colonialism. China, the first to support Ho Chi Minh’s struggle, sent propaganda officers to whip exiled, French-influenced bourgeoisie artists into shape through bouts of rigorous, ideological self-criticism. Trường Chinh, Ho Chi Minh’s right-hand man and the General Secretary of the Party, read a paper at the National Cultural Conference in

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