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About this Item
‘To the Morning’ by Claude Bouscharain presents the viewer with a couple, possibly the artist and her artist husband, Erik Laubscher, toasting the start of the next day, glasses of red wine raised. They are partially submerged in what could be a rock pool1 with a magnificent mountain providing a dramatic backdrop to the composition. The mountain is inseparable from the reflections which repeat its sharp angles and dark shapes, thus becoming a visual device which serves to frame the foreground rather than presenting as a subject independent of the whole.
Bouscharain’s adoption of the Precisionist painting style2 can be attributed to her years spent in New York after World War Two. There she saw the work of Niles Spencer and his American contemporaries who were exhibited at the Whitney Museum in the annual exhibition of Contemporary American Art in 1948 and 1949. In 1966 Bouscharain and Laubscher travelled together to New York after Laubscher was awarded the Carnegie Grant.3 Their return to Cape Town saw them change to the use of acrylic paint in their respective work, both employing a more linear style; Bouscharain built on her earlier works which evoke a certain magic realism4 but rather than the darker palette of the 1950s, the 1960s ushered in a light, previously missing, while Laubscher expanded his immersion in the landscape which had become the primary focus of his work from the beginning of the 1960s.
1. Erik and Claude enjoyed many camping trips with their circle of friends who included Stanley Pinker, Marthinus La Grange, Marjorie Wallace, Helmut Starcke and their respective spouses.
2. It was her use of the precisionist-style of painting in the 60s and 70s that provided the focus for Bruce Arnott in his 1977 publication on Bouscharain. The use of the term hard-edge ignores her subject matter which more closely aligns with Precisionism.
3. The Whitney Museum in New York sponsored a touring exhibition of Spencer’s works which ran from mid-1965 to mid-1966. It is likely that Bouscharain and Laubscher saw this show as the final stop was
in Rhode Island at the RISD Museum. This dovetailed with their trip to New York.
4. This can be attributed to her psychology studies.
University of Stellenbosch Art Gallery, Stellenbosch, Claude Bouscharain, 13 April to 16 May 1982, catalogue number 7, illustrated.