Vibrant and passionate propaganda posters look fantastic in our homes but also have a rich and fascinating history

While the wonderful artwork depicted on Vietnamese propaganda posters graces many homes as a stylish and bold focal point, Vietnamese propaganda posters are more than just beautiful pieces of art. Vietnamese art is just as important as the history books and the documented information of the era. The propaganda posters were used to spread communication, raise morale and invite patriotism.

Often considered focused on the war and freeing the land, Vietnamese propaganda posters went much further than that by promoting peace, supporting education and harnessing the country’s industry and agricultural potentials. In fact, they are still used today throughout the country to communicate to the people and to treasure this unique and iconic art style.

hanoi hue Saigon with frame

The 1940s – The Beginning

While many believe the posters began in the war (1955-1975), their earliest beginnings can be traced to the 1940s. The posters that were created in this time were found to be highly effective and successful at communicating social and political messages. This was the start of artists across Vietnam producing wide-ranging, creative, bright and beautiful posters that were not only pleasing to look at; they were also informative too.

As the movement continued, Ho Chi Minh (the communist revolutionary leader of North Vietnam) and Vo Nguyen Giap (one of the greatest military strategists of the 20th Century) fostered and supported the art movement in propaganda posters.

Both men spent time with the propaganda poster artists to share their vision. They both believed in the Leninist quote; “art is not art unless it becomes propaganda”. With this in mind, they wanted Vietnamese art to communicate central government policies to the population and these posters were truly effective as a method of reaching the whole population, including the rural majority.

81468 Green fern 50x70
Assault and attack the enemy
Ready to protect the country

During The War (1955-1975)

As the war raged, the posters became vital as a nationwide calling to arms, helping to boost the patriotism throughout the country as well as spreading information. It became difficult to share communication in this time and artists risked their lives in extraordinary circumstances to capture realist images and then spread them through areas which were highly risky and dangerous.

Artists were encouraged to keep drawing through turbulent times as a way of defying the enemy and showcasing a determination for national unification as well as the optimism and hope for peace in the country.

Wide Range Of Artwork

From 1950 onwards, the range of artwork became so varied and individualised. There were many artists, students and volunteers who were involved in the production of the poster art meaning that they were many different styles, designs and motifs used.

The artwork took inspiration from many art forms. In fact, the School of Fine Arts in Hanoi selected students to go to the Soviet Union (USSR) to study Russian propaganda art. In some pieces, you can see the Russian influence, but Vietnamese art truly had its own style and flourished as art and propaganda. All of the posters were bright and bold, and each was a personal drawing and an expression of the artist’s individual style. In all of the paintings, the objective was clear: to help the viewer empathise through realism.

Key Themes Of Propaganda

While the artwork covered all subjects, from war, resistance, country ideals, boosting the morale of the troop as well as supporting agriculture and education two of the most popular themes included:

The Role Of Women – Women played a significant and extraordinary role during the difficult times in Vietnam. Women were coined the ‘long-haired warriors’ and were expected to not only fulfil their domestic duties but also to take up arms, respond to the needs of the nation and defend their homeland. Many Vietnamese propaganda posters depict powerful and strong women, which makes them a beautiful and popular piece of artwork today.

Propaganda posters - Women in War
Women in War - Vietnamese propaganda posters

Ho Chi Minh – considered one of the most cherished subject in Vietnamese propaganda posters. Ho Chi Minh’s phrases adorned many posters such as: “Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom” or “Vietnam has the right to enjoy Freedom“. As one of the advocate and supporter of these posters, it is no surprise he was a popular focal point and theme for the artwork.

Ho Chi Minh with Children
Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh propaganda poster

Artwork For Your Home

The beauty of Vietnamese propaganda posters is that they were accessible art. They are not confined to galleries but were and are still on the streets so that everyone can enjoy them. Whether it’s a sentiment echoed or an enjoyment of the artistic design, these posters make excellent additions to your home art collection. Colourful, strident, optimistic and bold, they are perfect to liven up homes and bring culture and heritage as well as passionate art into your interior design.

– Stephanie B. –