Works by Le Van De and Mai-Thu have been acclaimed with several records. Vietnamese art has constant appeal, in both West and East.
Le Van De (1906-1966), Forêt tropicale du Vietnam (Vietnamese Tropical Forest), 1937, three-panel screen, mixed media, oil, gold and silver highlights, wood collages on panel, 252.5 x 64.5 cm.
There were only thirty-one lots in this sale of Asian modern art, and thirty devoted to Vietnam, its artists and those who, charmed by its culture, chose to live, create and teach there. The afternoon produced a final total not far off €2 M: a figure led by fine results yet again acclaiming Mai-Thu (for his Femmes au bain (Women bathing), which set a French record at €392,780) and Alix Aymé (with €50,700 for a toddler's Premiers pas (First Steps).) This pupil of Maurice Denis, much influenced by the art of the Nabis, arrived in Hanoi in the wake of her teacher husband, and made her stay there a springboard for her work, introducing her students to the difficult art of lacquering. Le Van De's three-section screen made a sizeable contribution as well. This Forêt tropicale du Vietnam (Vietnamese Tropical Forest) waved its palms all the way up to €399,160, bringing the artist a new world record after the one posted in June this year (source: Artnet). Though he is less well-known in France, where he is rarer in the market than the trio formed by Le Pho, Vu Cao Dam and Mai-Thu, this is not the case in Vietnam, where he made his mark by founding and directing the Fine Arts School of Saigon, modelled on the one in Hanoi (which closed in 1947). With this screen he explored a different medium, as though the country's traditional liking for lacquer is well known, there seem to be no other similar examples by him. In 1937, the date of this piece, saw the end of Le Van De's long stay in Europe, during which he discovered both Old Masters and all the modernism of Art Deco. He probably received a special commission there, and decided to combine his own culture with the aesthetic so much in vogue.