Ducmanh, sometimes known as The Duke, was born in Hanoi, Vietnam but moved to Paris as a young man. He studied at the Academie Jullian, and then worked as a graphic designer whilst painting. Although taken up by the Parisian art dealer Rene Drouin, who ensured his inclusion in a number of major European shows in the late 1950s and early 1960s, his artistic career really took off when he decamped to New York in April 1965. He gained a Rockefeller foundation grant and the Allan Stone Gallery soon accepted and began to show his work.
Ducmanh, whose style mixed the calligraphic and abstract benefited - like other Vietnamese artists in exile - from a greater freedom to experiment than those who remained at home. He was an important pioneer in terms of Vietnamese modernism with few, if any, compatriots matching his hard-edged modernity. In 1962 his work was exhibited at the Saigon Biennal in Vietnam.
Over the years Ducmanh has had solo exhibitions in many European countries in addition to the United States. Highlights include a 1959 show at the ICA in London, Galerie Kaspar, Lausanne, Switzerland in 1961, Galerie des Capucines, Paris 1964, Galerie Kleine at Aachen in Germany 1966, Allan Rich Gallery, New York 1973 and Galleria Peccolo in Livorno, Italy in 2001.The Allan Stone Gallery in New York still regularly exhibits his work.
Ducmanh is well known for his irreverent and iconoclastic attitudes and “addiction” to drink and women, as well as for some provocative writing and poetry. His work appealed to other artists and was apparently bought in the 1960s by Man Ray, Cesar, Mme Giacometti and Mlle. Dubonnet as well as the film director Roger Vadim.