T he Asian Art Department at Sotheby’s Paris has long featured twentieth-century Vietnamese art, and we are delighted to present more than thirty works of Vietnamese art in this auction. Highlights include two Vu Cao Dam oil paintings from an important European private collection, which have been held by the family for more than half a century and are appearing at auction for the first time. The other objects include paintings, prints, lacquerware, furniture, and sculptures, and the mediums highlight the artists’ skilful blend of Eastern and Western aesthetics. These artists often use the techniques and materials of European painting to depict traditional themes and subjects. Collectors and art lovers worldwide have appreciated the distinctive charm of this approach.
武高談Vu Cao Dam
Vu Cao Dam’s prolific creative life spanned sculpture, painting, and printmaking. He began his career with sculpture, but he came to focus on oil painting in his later years. In the late 1940s, he moved to France’s Côte d’Azur. He lived with his family in Vence at the villa Les Heures Claires, located near the Matisse Chapel and Marc Chagall’s home. The landscapes and people of southern France gradually influenced his artistic style.
The tradition of Vietnamese lacquer painting is more than 2,000 years old, dating as far back as the Ly dynasty in the 11th century. The art form can be traced to the Chinese dynastic powers that governed Vietnam over parts of its history. While the material was historically used in palaces and temples, during the early twentieth century, artists reached new heights in the medium. Their embrace of lacquer as an expressive form led to its Golden Age in the 1930s and 1940s. Lacquer painting fuses the desire for a beautiful life with the craft of painting to convey the aesthetic essence of Vietnam.
Renowned for his masterful innovations and unparalleled technical dexterity, Pham Hau was a pioneering lacquer artist who stood at the pinnacle of Vietnam’s modern art movement. Well-versed in Chinese and Western artistic principles and philosophies, he expertly blended the essence of the two. His landscape compositions are poetic and profound. His distinctive talent and superb technique stem from his reverence and appreciation for nature and beauty.