Arts in Southeast Asia Seminar Series: Colonials or Cosmopolitans? Vietnamese Artists in Paris in the 1930s-1940s
REGIONAL SOCIAL AND CULTURAL STUDIES PROGRAMME
Arts in Southeast Asia Seminar Series
About the Seminar
In the early decades of the 20th century, Paris was a cosmopolitan site of exchange for artists from all over the world. For artists from the territories of Indochina, Paris was also the centre of colonial power. This seminar looks at how these two facets of Paris interacted in the careers of Vietnamese artists who exhibited there in the 1930s and 1940s. The French colonial state actively promoted the export of Indochina artwork for sale in Paris, and exhibitions of Vietnamese art were part of this strategy. Artworks from Vietnam were also shown at the two massive international exhibitions of the 1930s – the Exposition coloniale internationale of 1931, and the Exposition des arts et techniques de la vie moderne of 1937. These exhibitions framed Vietnamese artists firmly within a discourse of colonial propaganda. However, they were also the catalyst for further engagements in Paris, with some artists (such as Le Pho) settling there permanently. By looking at how Vietnamese artists were exhibited and received in the French capital, this seminar investigates their place in the Parisian art world, and the tension between its colonial and cosmopolitan aspects.
This seminar builds on research that grew out of the Reframing Modernism exhibition of the National Gallery Singapore, and is now part of an ongoing research project about Southeast Asian artists in Paris.
About the Speaker
Dr Phoebe Scott has been a curator at the National Gallery Singapore since 2012. She was a co-curator of the inaugural exhibition Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia since the 19th Century and of the March 2016 exhibition, Reframing Modernism: Painting from Europe, Southeast Asia and Beyond, in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou. Prior to joining the National Gallery, Phoebe completed her PhD in art history at the University of Sydney, focusing on modern art in Vietnam from the 1920s to 1950s. She has written and taught on modern and contemporary art from Asia.