Lê Phu
Lê PhuVietnam
Lê Phu (2 August 1907 – 12 December 2001), the 10th of 20 children born to a wealthy mandarin, is one of Vietnam’s most celebrated painters. From 1925 until 1930, Lê Phổ studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Hanoi. At this point, he earned a scholarship to study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and he studied there for the next two years under the instruction of Victor Tardieu, a friend and companion of Henri Matisse. Upon returning to Vietnam he taught at the École Supérieure des Beaux Arts de l’Indochine in Hanoi.

In 1937, he gave up his professorship to return to Paris as a part of the International Exposition in Paris as both a delegate and a member of the exposition’s jury. In 1938, he had his first one-man show in Paris, a show which marked the beginning of his successful artistic career in Europe. He would go on to show his art across France in Paris, Nice, Lyon, and Rouen, as well as in Morocco, Brussels in Europe, and in New York.

Lê Phổ’s career contained three distinct periods during which he was able to commingle impressionism, surrealism and traditional Chinese styles. His early work featured nostalgic depictions of Vietnamese landscapes, flowers and birds painted with watercolors on silk using long, thin brushes.

He then transitioned to placing thick oil paint brushstrokes on canvas and began to include more interior scenes, female figures, and sensual elements, including nude figures, which was unacceptable in Vietnam at the time.

Many people consider the strong shifts in medium, subject, and style between these three periods to be a testament to Le Pho’s versatility as an artist. Art critics praise him for how drastically his style shifted during his life.

Though he travelled for his shows, he continued to call Paris his home from 1937 until the time of his death in 2001. He was one of four EBAI graduates who made a career in Paris. He painted scenery of Vietnam, still life with flowers, family settings and portraits. Vietnamese women, most often portrayed as elongated figures evoking the influence of surrealism, are a recurrent theme in his work.

While Lê Phổ was successful during his life and sold paintings to some of the world’s most prominent collectors, his status has risen in recent years as Vietnamese art has become increasingly popular. In 2019, his painting ‘Nude,’ or ‘Nue’ in French, sold for US$1.4 million, more than 2.5 times its expected value at an auction at Christie’s in Hong Kong. That was a record for a Vietnamese painting.

Artists - Vietnam- Le-Phu-75-x-50

Le Phu 75-x-50

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