Vietnam Reflexes and Reflections

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9780810939455: Vietnam Reflexes and Reflections
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The long-overlooked art of Vietnam War veterans offers a unique perspective on a momentous event in American history. Nearly 200 works in a wide ranges of mediums are highlighted from the extraordinary collection at the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago. 307 illustrations, 123 in color.

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From Publishers Weekly:

The very first entries in this harrowing catalogue of the collection of the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, founded in 1981 as a traveling exhibition and permanently installed in Chicago 15 years later, are watercolors by an unidentified North Vietnamese soldierArepresentations by the enemy, in other words. Though this is something of an alphabetical fluke (A for Anonymous), that it was allowed to remain reflects the complexity and variety of veterans' attitudes: toward their experiences in Vietnam; toward their comrades, their supposed enemies, their irreversibly transformed selves; and, inevitably, toward America. Flags abound in their work, as do masks and bones. Tragedy is often tempered by macabre humor, as in Stephen Ham's Dead Vet greeting cards and William Dugan's mummified roadkill. A furious beauty is acknowledged in the jungle landscape, where many of these artists came close to dying. As Sondra Varco, the museum's director, cautions in her foreword, this volume is "not for the faint of heart" nor for the condescending. Many of the paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs are impressive on aesthetic terms but still must fend off what one vet in his artist's statement calls the "prejudice against art that is done out of necessity." Most of these men and women began working in private, sometimes destroying what they madeAnot surprising given the brutal reception some received on returning home. The remarks accompanying the visual material, some excerpted from letters and diaries, others quite formal and self-conscious, are staggering in their cumulative effect. Useful essays by Sinaiko and art historian Arthur F. Janson, who served in Vietnam, are wisely placed after the catalogue. (Nov.) FYI: The official publication date is November 11, or Veterans Day. For a look at journalism during the war, see reviews below of two October books, both titled Reporting Vietnam.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A lavishly illustrated collection of works from the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum. Begun as a collective operating from an old warehouse on the South Side of Chicago in 1981, the museum now has the worlds largest permanent collection of art depicting all aspects of the war in Vietnamall of it created by veterans of the war. Sinaiko, a New York artist and scholar, has collected some 200 such works for inclusion here, along with a foreword by museum director Sondra Varco and an essay by Anthony Janson (coauthor if the classic text History of Art). While most media (painting, sculpture, sketch, photography, and multimedia) are represented, painting seems to be the dominant mode, and the styles employed range from formalist to surrealist to popalthough, not surprisingly, abstract works are conspicuously absent. The histories of the artists are supplied through letters and personal statements, and these help to fill out the narratives of the artworks themselves. By turns haunting, sarcastic, bitter, and meditative, the works collected here provide a good introduction to the trauma of Vietnam for those too young to remember it and a fresh perspective for those who lived through it. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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