Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975

March 15, 2019–August 18, 2019

Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and F Streets, NW)
Martha Rosler, Red Stripe Kitchen

Martha Rosler, Red Stripe Kitchen, from the series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, c. 1967-72, photomontage, Art Institute of Chicago, through prior gift of Adeline Yates; exhibition copy provided by Mitchell‑Innes & Nash, New York, © Martha Rosler; Image courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York

How the Vietnam War changed American art

By the late 1960s, the United States was in pitched conflict both in Vietnam, against a foreign power, and at home—between Americans for and against the war, for and against the status quo. Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975 presents art created amid this turmoil, spanning the period from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s fateful decision to deploy U.S. ground troops to South Vietnam in 1965 to the fall of Saigon ten years later.

The first national museum exhibition to examine the contemporary impact of the Vietnam War on American art, Artists Respond brings together nearly 100 works by fifty-eight of the most visionary and provocative artists of the period. Galvanized by the moral urgency of the Vietnam War, these artists reimagined the goals and uses of art, affecting developments in multiple movements and media: painting, sculpture, printmaking, performance, installation, documentary art, and conceptualism. Iconic pieces are seen alongside works by artists of color and women, who have been historically excluded from surveys of the period. The exhibition makes vivid an era in which artists endeavored to respond to the turbulent times and openly questioned issues central to American civic life.

Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975 is organized by Melissa Ho, curator of 20th-century art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The exhibition is presented in conjunction with an installation by internationally acclaimed artist Tiffany Chung. Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past Is Prologue, probes the legacies of the Vietnam War and its aftermath through maps, paintings, and videos that share the stories of former Vietnamese refugees.

Exhibition Catalogue

Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975

More than forty years after the last American soldiers withdrew from Sài Gòn, Artists Respond affords a “real time” view of the Vietnam era as seen through the eyes of American artists. 

Symposium

On Friday, March 15, SAAM hosts a day of lectures and conversations from leading experts and artists inspired by the exhibition Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975. In the morning session, a distinguished group of scholars offer insight into the intersection between the Vietnam War and contemporary art practices in the United States. During the afternoon session, two panels of artists reflect on their experience of the Vietnam War as creators and, in many cases, as activists. This program will also be available via live webcast.

Public Programs

March 15, 9:00 a.m. - Artists Respond: A Symposium 
March 28, 5:30 p.m. - Gallery Talk with Melissa Ho
April 9, 6:00 p.m. - Double Take: One Artwork Two Viewpoints
April 13, 4:00 p.m. - 21st Century Consort: Black Angels
April 17, 7:00 p.m. – Movies at SAAM: Anderson Platoon
May 10, 7:00 p.m. - Movies at SAAM: In the Year of the Pig
May 23, 6:00 p.m. - Returns, Refugees and Refusal: Art War Memory and the Politics of Representation with Việt Lê

Artists included in the exhibition are: Carl Andre, Benny Andrews, Art Workers’ Coalition, Asco, Judith Bernstein, Chris Burden, T.C. Cannon, Mel Casas, Rosemarie Castoro, Judy Chicago, William Copley, Emile de Antonio, Mark di Suvero, James Gong Fu Dong, Dan Flavin, Terry Fox, Rupert García, Leon Golub, Philip Jones Griffiths, Guerrilla Art Action Group, Philip Guston, Hans Haacke, David Hammons, Wally Hedrick, Douglas Huebler, Carlos Irizzary, Kim Jones, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Corita Kent, Edward Kienholz, Yayoi Kusama, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Fred Lonidier, Malaquias Montoya, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Barnett Newman, Jim Nutt, Claes Oldenburg, Yoko Ono, Dennis Oppenheim, Liliana Porter, Yvonne Rainer, Ad Reinhardt, Faith Ringgold, Martha Rosler, Peter Saul, Carolee Schneemann, Robert Smithson, Nancy Spero, May Stevens, Carol Summers, Paul Thek, Jesse Treviño, Tomi Ungerer, Timothy Washington, and William Weege.

Book

The companion catalogue, published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in association with Princeton University Press, includes essays by Melissa Ho, Thomas Crow, Erica Levin, Katherine Markoski, Mignon Nixon, and Martha Rosler.

Credit

Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975 is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from Anonymous, Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation, Sheri and Joe Boulos, the Gene Davis Memorial Fund, Glenstone Foundation, Norbert Hornstein and Amy Weinberg, the Henry Luce Foundation, Nion McEvoy and Leslie Berriman, Cindy Miscikowski, Daniel C. and Teresa Moran Schwartz, the Smithsonian Scholarly Studies Grant Program, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

The Terra Foundation logo and the Henry Luce Foundation logo