Thái Hà

b. 1922, Bac Ninh

Thái Hà (born as  Nguyễn Như Huân) regularly visited artisans in the village of Tan Hong commune to learn about lacquer techniques at a very young age. In 1940, he started his preparatory studies in Hanoi at the École des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine under the tutelage of Joseph Inguimberty.  With the advent of American bombing of Japanese occupying forces in World War II, Huân was evacuated along with his painting classes to Sơn Tây, where he continued his studies and joined the last intake to the senior course. His classmates included Phan Kế An and Dương Bích Liên and Tô Ngọc Vân became his principal teacher.


When the École des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine closed in 1945, he returned to Hanoi to work for the fledgling Việt Minh regime. Not having any accommodation in Hanoi, he joined the army to be provided with a free accommodation to work on his paintings and then was assigned to a military training course before being selected to join forces heading south.  After most of his troops was wiped out by disease and battles in the central Việt Nam highlands in 1946, Huân was assigned responsibility for propaganda activities. In 1964, Huân was commissioned to return to the south of Vietnam to manage the ‘liberty art department’.  Due to the secrecy of the assignment, his name was changed to Thái Hà.  From 1964, until the end of the war in 1975, Thái Hà lived and worked primarily in the south, creating many sketches and images of the daily life of villagers and soldiers.  Alongside artists Huỳnh Phương Đông, Trang Phượng and Nguyễn Thanh Châu, his works became some of the most widely published and exhibited from the war.


(Biography provided by Witness Collection)


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