Examine the ways artists depict history.
Peter Saul created Saigon in response to the atrocities of the Vietnam War; a war that he and many other Americans felt was unjustified. Using exaggerated, almost cartoonish imagery, Saul depicts the stereotypes and violence that consumed this era of American history. What are some of the stereotypes that Saul portrays? Why might he have included them in this painting?
In 2008, New York Times art critic Holland Cotter described Saul as “one of our few important practicing history painters.” After looking at this painting, discuss the quote with your students. What does it mean to be a history painter? How has Saul tried to capture that era of our history? Is he successful? Why or why not?