“Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975” opens today at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. This new exhibition illustrates the impact of the war on American art and features 115 objects, including works by previously marginalized artists including women, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans.
The Vietnam War, a divisive and controversial conflict, had a profound impact on the art of its time. “Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975” emphasizes how American artists grappled with the dilemmas of the war as it was unfolding—from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s fateful decision to deploy U.S. ground troops to South Vietnam in 1965 to the fall of Saigon 10 years later. 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” 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 115 objects by 58 of the most visionary and provocative artists of the period. 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.
Image: Carlos Irizarry, Moratorium, 1969, screenprint, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denhausen Endowment, 2013.24.1 A-B. Copyright: 1969 Carlos Irizarry, Photo by Gene Young