Obituary: Dr. Boitran Huynh-Beattie (1957-2012)

Dr. Boitran Huynh-Beattie, a leading Vietnamese art historian and guest writer for diaCRITICS, has passed away. diaCRITIC Nora Taylor contributes this obituary.

I am sad to report of the passing of Dr. Boitran Huynh-Beattie. Born in 1957, among the few art historians of Vietnam, Boitran started her career as a teacher at Dong Nai College of Fine Arts. She then received her PhD in Art History at the University of Sydney in 2005. Titled “Vietnamese Aesthetics from 1925 onwards,” and supervised by Dr. John Clark, it contained the first comprehensive study of artists in South Vietnam between 1954 and 1975. Her dissertation can be read here.

Boitran continued to pursue research and curatorial projectes pertaining to Vietnamese modern and contemporary art including “Nam Bang!” at Casula Powerhouse in 2009. She was also an adviser to the Singapore Art Museum, Post-Vidai in Ho Chi Minh City and co-author of an upcoming monograph on Nguyen Trung. Her passing is a terrible loss to the fields of Vietnamese studies and Vietnamese art history.

Her contributions to diaCRITICS include this review of Carina Hoang’s Boat People, this essay on realism and the avant-garde in Asian art, this review of artist Khue Nguyen, and this review of artist Dinh Q. Lê.

She was a close colleague of mine. Aside from being a wonderfully caring person, a mother and recently a grandmother, she was also extremely dedicated to Vietnamese art. The field will not be the same without her. She is survived by her husband, Ray Beattie and a son, daughter and grandchild.

Nora Taylor



  1. I am sorry about the loss of Dr. Huynh-Beattie. I came across this posting because I was looking for Vietnamese obituaries online. I have been pleased to share a brief message of comfort in Vietnamese for those who have lost loved ones. The Vietnamese version is at and the English version is at May you find comfort in the loss of your friends, and please share this with others who you know may be encouraged by it.

  2. Thank you, Nora, for this sad notice. BoiTran will be missed by many of her friends in America!
    She wrote me a letter last year saying she would like to come back to the States to study some more of the many Vietnamese paintings in private collections in the U.S., which she had had a chance to survey the last time she was here. Such an optimistic letter, hardly the kind of letter from someone facing imminent passing away!
    What could have taken her away at the flower of her age?
    My deep condolences to her family!


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