The Ecole des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine: Victor Tardieu and French Art Between the Wars
thesisposted on 19.10.2016 by Marie-Agathe Simonetti
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
The thesis examines Victor Tardieu, the director of the École des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine (EBAI) in the colonial cultural context of the interwar era in France. The EBAI, founded in 1924 was a School of Fine Arts following the curriculum of the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris transposed in colonial Hanoi. Despite its manifest colonial background, the current research published on the EBAI does not fully address the ideology behind the creation of such a school in Indochina and its role in French colonial and colonial art discourse. I argue that the art produced by the EBAI was strongly influenced by Tardieu, whose conception of art reflected France’s colonial civilizing mission, the academism of the School of Fine Arts, and nationalistic nostalgia for a French art, which was expressed at that time notably through landscape painting. In order to reveal Tardieu’s preeminent role at the EBAI and his Beaux-Arts inspired mindset, I used Tardieu’s letters and writing, accessible through the fonds Victor Tardieu. For Tardieu, adopting the Paris School of Fine Arts’ structure would inscribe Annamite art into the tradition of a grand French art. Tardieu’s “grand French art” reflected an outdated vision at odds with modernist trends in Paris. Tardieu’s outdated vision, however, corresponded to a return to a less abstract mode of expression in France, a rejection of cubism and a return to landscape painting during the interwar period.