VU CAO DAM (1908-2000).
Head of a young woman.
Patinated terracotta signed in ink on the hair on the nape of the neck (traces of polychromy). `Height : 21 cm. 21 cm - Width : 12 cm - Depth : 12 cm
Original wooden base.
Vu Cao Dam was born on January 8, 1908 in Hanoi, the capital of Tonkin. He grew up in a family that had been converted to Catholicism since the 18th century and his father, who spoke French admirably, was sent to Paris for the 1889 Universal Exhibition. His father founded and directed the Hanoi School of Interpreters which trained the mandarins of the colonial regime. It is thus within this privileged universe, where Chinese calligraphy permeates daily life, that Vu Cao Dam evolved. In 1926, he joined the second class of the Hanoi School of Fine Arts, which was directed by the painter Victor Tardieu. There he rubbed shoulders with Mai Trung Thu, Nguyen Phan Chanh, Le Pho and learned western academic techniques thanks to lessons in decoration from the painter Joseph Inguimberty or in anatomy from Doctor Phénix. His ease in modelling was quickly noticed by Victor Tardieu who encouraged him to join the school's brand new "sculpture" section and did not hesitate to send him to Paris where he exhibited his bronze works at the Angkor Pavilion during the 1931 International Colonial Exhibition. After studying at the École du Louvre, where he admired the Italian primitives as well as the contributions of impressionist and post-impressionist painters, he discovered the works of Rodin, Charles Despiau and Giacometti. The bronze requisitions of the Second World War pushed the young artist to use other materials such as terracotta, which he shaped with great sensitivity. It was at this time that he produced his most beautiful pieces, which he described as "unique works". By freezing in clay the graceful silhouette of the Tonkinese, he creates a deep link between the Chinese court ladies of the Tang period and the Child Virgins of European culture. The traces of modelling that have been left behind betray the modernity of the creative act, while the highlights of colour underline the finesse and serenity of the face. These busts become an allegory of Tonkin, where tradition and modernity peacefully confront each other. In 1946, Vu Cao Dam was the most prominent Vietnamese artist in Paris. He took advantage of his fame to meet Ho Chi Minh, then president of the new Republic, and freeze for history the new figure of Vietnam.