12 December 1957: Vietnam Fine Arts Association Formed

Formation and Roles

On 12 December 1957, the Vietnam Fine Arts Association formed in Hanoi. Headed by Thái Bá Vân, 123 founding members established the association,1 including Huỳnh Văn Thuận and Phan Kế An.

A number of members created paintings as gifts for allied or sympathetic governments during wartime. For example, in 1967, the Cuban government chose Lê Lam’s praised work, “The Spirit of the Bến Tre People”, to print on large grids to broadcast the American war in Vietnam around the world. The association chose artworks by Nguyễn Thanh Minh and Nguyễn Ðức Thọ as gifts for the Cuban government after their independence in 1976. It also chose an oil painting by Bùi Quang Ánh as a gift for President Sukarno on his 1959 visit. Although, Ánh was not a member of the association at the time.

The association often sponsored members who worked for the military with art materials and supplies. Artists sent pieces made in the field during expeditions back to the association for safekeeping and future exhibitions.

Due to their important roles during conflict in Vietnam, many war artists became general secretaries, deputy general secretaries or departmental directors of the association. Vũ Giáng Huong became deputy secretary-general in 1989. She later served as secretary-general from 1994 to 1999.2

Vietnam Fine Arts Association
The Vietnam Fine Art Association offered materials, supplies and space for artists to create or exhibit work. (Image courtesy of Michigan Quarterly Review).

The Vietnam Fine Arts Association in the Present

The association has cultivated generations of artists who have made valuable contributions to Vietnamese art. It has also sponsored artists with tuition, materials and exhibitions throughout its history, at home and abroad. It has also curated a large collection of important Vietnamese art.

From its original 123 members, the Vietnam Fine Arts Association now has over 1,900 members spread across the country. The association continues to hold art camps as well as domestic and international exhibitions. It has received a number of government awards. These include the Ho Chi Minh Order in 1997 and the Gold Star Order in 2007.

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