Fine Arts University to celebrate centenary

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Cau khi tren con rach o Sa Dec (A bamboo bridge over a canal in Sa Dec), one of 40 artworks printed in Monographie dessinée de l'Indochine (Indochina drawing monograph) published by Gia Dinh School of Drawing in 1935
A series of activities are being held until the end of this year at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Fine Arts to celebrate its 100th birthday anniversary (19132013).

The university, formerly Truong ve Gia Dinh (École de dessin de Gia Dinh, or Gia Dinh School of Drawing) was founded by French painter architect André Joyeux on October 14, 1913.

Contemporary French art was introduced into Vietnam during the Exposition de Hanoi 1902-1903 and in subsequent years, western-style paintings and sculpture became popular among Vietnamese intellectuals. The first of several "Annamese Art Exhibitions" was held by the French in 1909 and in 1913 at this school.

There were 15 students for the first school year, and this increased to 160 by 1940.

Vietnam's first generations of fine arts artists studied at the school. Some of their artworks featuring landscapes, daily life and buildings of the southern Vietnam were printed in the Monographie dessinée de l'Indochine (Indochina drawing monograph) published by the school in 1935. Some copies of the books can be found in some old bookstores in European countries, such as L'Opiomane in Paris.

According to Ghislain, the bookshop's owner, there are eight copies in total in his bookstore, each with 40 paintings.

"Nobody knows how many copies were issued, but it's extremely difficult to have this. A representative of a 50-year-old bookstore trading publications on former French colony told me that they have seen a complete set of the printing only once," said Ghislain.

The university's anniversary ceremony will be held in November.

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