New book reveals Centenary history of Indochina School of Fine Arts

Modern Art in Indochina, a book by French author Charlotte Aguttes-Reynier, showcases captivating biographies and exclusive artworks created by renowned Vietnamese painters.


The book “L’Art moderne en Indochine” (Modern Art in Indochina) by French scholar Charlotte Aguttes-Reynier, President of the Association of Asian Artists in Paris, was officially launched in Hanoi this week.

The book reveals the century-long history of the founding and development of the Indochina School of Fine Arts (now the Vietnam University of Fine Arts, 42 Yet Kieu Street, Hanoi).

Charlotte Aguttes-Reynier, author of the book, has spent 10 years researching Vietnamese fine arts.

The 432-page book, written in Vietnamese, French, and English, touches on the school’s contributions to international art history and shares the results of 10 years of research on Vietnamese fine arts.

Charlotte Aguttes-Reynier presented her extensive research, covering the entire history of the Indochina School of Fine Arts from 1925 to 1945, including the process of its establishment, development, running, the achievements of its teachers, outstanding students, and exhibitions of their works in Hanoi, Saigon, and Paris.

A series of 319 illustrations, 28 biographies of students and teachers, and many archival documents form the core of her arguments. Readers will be able to admire rarely-seen works by teachers and students of the Indochina School of Fine Arts, such as Victor Tadieu, Joseph Inguimberty, Alix Aymé, Nguyen Phan Chanh, Vu Cao Dam, Mai Trung Thu, Le Pho, To Ngoc Van and others.

The book shows the history of the Indochina School of Fine Arts.

The author hopes to shed light on the dark areas that obscure the richness and importance of art during this period in Indochina, an important component of international art history.

The Indochina School of Fine Arts was founded on October 27, 1924. Under the rectorship of the artist Victor Tardieu, its first rector, and then Evariste Jonchère, the school experienced a period of great artistic vitality, inspiring the renewal of modern Vietnamese art.

“On the eve of the centenary of the founding of the Indochina School of Fine Arts (1924-2024), I wanted to pay tribute to the talent of its students, artists long forgotten and unrecognized. I immersed myself in the archives and set about tracing with a new eye – that of an expert in modern Asian art – a part of art history that has been totally neglected for more than 50 years. To this day, many grey areas have masked the richness and artistic importance of the period between 1925 and 1945 in Indochina; I hope that the light shed by this book will allow each of them to receive the honor they deserve,” said Charlotte Aguttes-Reynier.

Speaking at the book launch, Sophie Maysonnave, Counselor for Cultural Cooperation and Activities at the French Embassy and Director of the French Institute in Vietnam, said that Vietnam and France once shared a common past. Despite the ups and downs of history, it remains one of the foundations of the Francophone community and creates a strong bond between the two countries.

Sophie Maysonnave, Director of the French Institute in Vietnam, at the book launch.

According to Sophie Maysonnave, French culture and education have had a profound impact on Vietnamese society. This influence can be seen in the fields of architecture and construction, such as in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat, as well as in the establishment of universities in Indochina, of which the Indochina School of Fine Arts marks an important turning point in the history of Vietnamese art, as it trained many outstanding painters who have left their mark on world art.

This school was founded after a historic meeting between two great artists: Victor Tardieu and Nam Son.

Sophie Maysonnave stated that the book is a valuable work that celebrates the contributions and achievements of the teachers and students of the Indochina School of Fine Arts in the process of establishing and developing modern fine arts in Vietnam.

The book is published by In Fine éditions d’art, which specializes in art publications and exhibition catalogues, a unit of the Société Française de Promotion Artistique (publishing agency for Connaissance des Arts and In Fine éditions d’art).