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 world's largest permanent collection of art depicting all aspects of the war in Vietnam—all 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 pop—although, 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.
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