Witness Collection traces the development of Vietnamese modern and contemporary art since the early 20th century. The collection includes paintings by more than 120 of Vietnam’s most important and influential artists, whose impactful works document the dramatic changes that have occurred in this intriguing and extraordinary country during its recent history.
Since the opening of the École des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine (Fine Art School of Indochina) by the French colonial administrators in Hanoi in 1925, Vietnam has developed a flourishing fine arts community. However, due to years of war and isolation, Vietnam’s remarkable arts – combining Eastern and Western influences – remain little known outside of Southeast Asia. Witness Collection is working with researchers, museums and other institutional and private partners around the world to share Vietnam’s unique artistic talents through publications, exhibitions and visual media.
Witness Collection was initiated in 1987, at a time when Vietnam remained largely closed to the outside world and was still recovering from decades of war. The collection has been carefully developed to include the leading artists from each of the four generations since the establishment of the original Fine Art School of Indochina in 1925. The first generation covers those artists who studied at the French-influenced college between 1925-45; the second generation covers the war years from 1945-75; the third generation covers Vietnam’s post-war socialist realism period of 1975-86; and the fourth generation covers the period from the country’s initiation of its đổi mới (renovation) policies in 1986 to the present day.
Witness Collection works with many different organisations and individuals for its research and art projects. If you are looking for more information on Vietnamese visual art, art history or conservation, the following connections and resources are a good place to start: