The book titled “Modern Art in Indochina” has been published in French, Vietnamese, and English by the publisher In Fine editions d’art. This 432-page book is the result of Reynier’s ten years of research and expertise on the origins of Vietnamese modern art, and it will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the school this year.

Reynier emphasized the importance of publishing the book in three languages. This trilingual book will allow a wider audience to access the content and unveil a section of international art history that has been shrouded in secrecy for over 70 years. It sheds light on how the art market enriches art history and contributes to the advancement of this forgotten school.

The Indochina School of Fine Arts, also known as L’Ecole Superieure des Beaux-Arts d’Indochine, was established in 1924 by the first French principal, Victor Tardieu, and his Vietnamese colleague, artist Nguyen Nam Son. The school opened its doors to students in 1925, offering a curriculum that expanded from oil on canvas to sculpture, lacquer, architecture, and decorative arts over the years.

Alongside Tardieu, the school had permanent staff members such as Joseph Inguimberty, Alix Aymé, and Évariste Jonchère. Inguimberty took over as principal after Tardieu’s passing in 1937. Sadly, the school shut down when Japan occupied the country in 1945.

Throughout its two decades of existence, the school nurtured numerous artist-pioneers, including Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu, Vu Cao Dam, To Ngoc Van, Nguyen Tuong Van, and many others. The book chronicles the highlights of the school between 1925 and 1945, describing the exhibitions held in Hanoi, Saigon, and Paris, as well as the critics’ reception.

“Packed with 319 illustrations, 28 biographies of students and teachers, and multiple archive documents, the book takes readers into the hidden world of private collections and museum reserves. Through the art of Inguimberty, Aymé, Dam, Thu, Pho, and others, who drew, painted, sculpted, worked with lacquer, and exhibited, the school experienced rich artistic emulation under the guidance of Tardieu and Jonchere. Their efforts played a significant role in the revival of modern Vietnamese art during the 1925-1945 period,” shared Reynier.

Reynier aims to explain the pivotal stages leading to the emergence of the artistic elite envisioned by Tardieu and shed light on the previously obscured richness and artistic importance of this period in Indochina. The book also provides never-before-seen documents, offering better insight into the lesser-known aspects of fine art.

“The book fills in the missing pieces of the school’s 100-year history,” noted Nguyen Hai Yen, a fine arts researcher. Reynier had the opportunity to meet the families of the artists in France, including Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu, Vu Cao Dam, and Le Thi Luu.

Reynier, an expert in Asian modern art and the president of the Asian Artists in Paris Association, has dedicated the past ten years to studying artists’ works with dual training in Vietnam/France and China/France. She has been actively promoting the works of Asian artists since 2013.

The book launching ceremony was held in collaboration with the French Institute of Hanoi, the Vietnam Fine Arts University, and the Viet Art View Company. The book will be available for purchase online starting from February at a price of EUR75, tax included, in France.