Artists Respond is the most comprehensive exhibition to examine the contemporary impact of the Vietnam War on American art. The exhibition is unprecedented in its historical scale and depth. It 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. This exhibition presents both well-known and rarely discussed works, and offers an expanded view of American art during the war, introducing a diversity of previously marginalized artistic voices, including women, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. 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 twentieth-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.
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 Awards, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
“Of the ’60s shows I’ve seen in the past few years, this one is the best, evocative of its time, and in sync with the present.”
—Holland Cotter, The New York Times
“The cruel, unanswerable question of how art should respond to war is at the heart of Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975, a must-see show at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.”
—Sebastian Smee, The Washington Post
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.
On Kawara, Title, 1965, acrylic and collage on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund. © One Million Years Foundation, Photo courtesy One Million Years Foundation and David Zwirner
Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, 1964, performed at Carnegie Hall, New York, March 21, 1965, 16 mm film by Albert and David Maysles transferred to video, black and white, sound, 8:25 minutes, Courtesy of Yoko Ono Lennon. © Yoko Ono 1965/2019
Paul Thek, Warrior's Leg from the series Technological Reliquaries, 1966-67, wax, leather, metal, and paint, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest Fund, 1990. © The Estate of George Paul Thek; courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New York, Photo by Cathy Carver. Courtesy Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Carol Summers, Kill for Peace, from the portfolio Artists and Writers Protest against the War in Viet Nam, 1967, screenprint with punched holes, International Center of Photography, Gift of the Artists’ Poster Committee with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2002. Photo courtesy of the International Center of Photography
Corita Kent, right, 1967, screenprint, Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles, CA. © Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles, Photo by Arthur Evans
Corita Kent, yellow submarine, 1967, screenprint, Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles, CA. © Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles, Photo by Arthur Evans
Philip Jones Griffiths, Vietnam, 1967, gelatin silver print, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © The Philip Jones Griffiths Foundation/Magnum Photos, Photo courtesy the J. Paul Getty Museum
Wally Hedrick, War Room, 1967–68/2002, oil on canvas, Collection of Paul and Karen McCarthy. Image courtesy of the Wally Hedrick Estate and The Box, LA, Photo © Fredrik Nilsen Studio
Martha Rosler, Cleaning the Drapes, from the series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, ca. 1967-72, photomontage, Art Institute of Chicago, through prior gift of Adeline Yates; exhibition copy provided by Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Martha Rosler, Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York
Peter Saul, Target Practice, 1968, acrylic on canvas, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Purchase Fund, 2016. ©Peter Saul, Photo courtesy Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden by Cathy Carver
David Hammons, America the Beautiful, 1968, lithograph and body print, Collection of the Oakland Museum of California, the Oakland Museum Founders Fund. © David Hammons, Photo courtesy the Oakland Museum of California
Edward Kienholz, The Eleventh Hour Final, 1968, tableau: wood paneling, concrete TV set with engraved screen and remote control, furniture, lamp, ash trays, artificial flowers, TV Guide, pillows, painting, and wall clock, window and curtains, Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland. Copyright Kienholz. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA
James Gong Fu Dong, Vietnam Scoreboard, 1969, embossed etching, San Francisco State College Art Department Collection. © Jim Dong, Courtesy of the Artist, Photo by Mindy Barrett
Carlos Irizarry, Moratorium, 1969, screenprint, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, 2013.24.1A-B. ©1969 Carlos Irizarry, Photo by Gene Young
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, WAR IS OVER! IF YOU WANT IT, 1969, offset lithograph, Courtesy of Yoko Ono Lennon. © Yoko Ono 1969/2019
May Stevens, Big Daddy Paper Doll, 1970, acrylic on canvas, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. S. Zachary Swidler, 75.73. © May Stevens, Courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE Gallery, New York.
Rupert García, ¡Fuera de Indochina!, 1970, screenprint, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Marcus © Rupert García, Courtesy Rena Bransten Gallery, Photo courtesy the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Edward Kienholz, The Non-War Memorial, 1970/1972, military uniforms, sand, book, acrylic vitrine, plaque, and printed statement, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Nancy Reddin Kienholz 2003.14a-h. Copyright Kienholz. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA. Photo by Sheldan C. Collins
Seymour Rosen, photograph of Asco’s Stations of the Cross, 1971, printed 2019, gelatin silver prints, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Frank K. Ribelin Endowment. © SPACES - Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments
Judy Chicago, Immolation, from the portfolio On Fire, 1972, printed 2013, inkjet print, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum Purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment. © 2018 Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Photo by Mindy Barrett
Malaquias Montoya, Viet Nam/Aztlan, 1973, offset lithograph, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Frank K. Ribelin Endowment, 2015.29.3. © Malaquias Montoya, Photo by Mindy Barrett
Jesse Treviño, Mi Vida, 1971–73, acrylic on drywall, mounted on aluminum, Collection of Inez Cindy Gabriel. Image Courtesy of Gabriel Quintero Velasquez
Kim Jones, Mudman Structure (large), 1974, sticks, mud, rope, foam rubber, shellac, and acrylic; shown with chair, boots, and bucket of mud, Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp. © Kim Jones, courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels & Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp
Philip Guston, San Clemente, 1975, oil on canvas, Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland. © The Estate of Philip Guston, courtesy Hauser & Wirth, Photo by Christopher Burke
Rupert García came from a family active in the creation and instruction of folk arts and traditions. After completing his service in the U.S. Air Force in Indochina, García attended the San Francisco School for the Arts on the G.I. Bill.
Paul Thek appreciated the beauty in all things, even those that might appear repulsive to others. In the early 1950s he studied at the Art Students League and the Pratt Institute in New York.