While in Hong Kong, the prices of Vietnamese paintings explode, building a new era in the Art history of Vietnam, it’s the turn of Europe and France to take again a closer look at the Vietnamese art. The French auction house Aguttes, which has decided since 2017 to relaunch the Asian paintings market, was very successful this month with his sales of Vietnamese works. The opportunity to discover the painters of the Hanoi School as VU CAO DAM (1908-2000), LE PHO (1907-2001) and MAI TRUNG THU (1906-1980).
The story of these three painters is closely related. They were indeed part of the students of the School of Fine Arts of Indochina and their talent was quickly noticed by Victor Tardieu, founder, and director of the school. In 1931, alongside Tardieu, VU CAO DAM, MAY TRUNG THU, and LE PHO discover Paris during the Colonial Exhibition. This visit to France will be decisive for everyone, both in the evolution of their artistic career and in their lives, since they choose to settle there permanently.
Among the works of Vu Cao Dam, ‘Conversation’, illustrates the sweetness, so characteristic of the artist’s production. First a sculptor, he turned after to silk painting and genre scenes. From a private collection from Lyon, ‘Conversation’ was estimated between 30.000 and 50.000 € ($ 37.000 -$61.552) and was sold 220.520 € ( $271.470).
‘The dream’ always from Vu Cao Dam was estimated between 10.000 and 15.000 € ($12.300 – $18.465) and was sold 31.200 € ($38.408).
A beautiful selection painted by LE PHO was also presented on this occasion. From a private collection, ‘The Girl with the Rose’ made on silk estimated between 150.000 and 200.000 € ( $184.657 – $ 246.209) was sold 207.760 € ( $255.762). The painting corresponds to the first period of the artist, more classic, in which he favors painting on silk, in the continuity of traditional Chinese painting
‘Maternity’ of LE PHO estimated between 150.000 and 200.000 € ( $184.657 – $ 246.209) was sold 386.000 € ($475.184).
MAY TRUNG THU was also represented, through a pair of silk inks representing ‘Seven girls’ and ‘Seven boys’. Colorful and full of freshness and innocence, the first one estimated between 15.000 and 20.000 € ( $18.465 – $24.620) was sold for 28.600 € ( $ 35.207) and the second one estimated between 15.000 and 20.000 € ( $18.465 – $24.620) was sold for 27.300 € ( $33.607).
‘The musical moment’ estimated between 40.000 and 60.000 € ($49.241- $ 73.862) was sold 297.080 € ($365.719). Of his contemporaries, MAI TRUNG THU is the one who stayed closer to the Vietnamese identity.
The public interest in the collection of Vietnamese artworks is growing in popularity. However, the absence of an evaluation, insurance, and protection agencies caused previously and still cause sometimes today uncertainty for buyers. But it’s hoped that with the resolution of these problems, this market of great potential, still not enough exploited internationally, will gain soon a new renown.