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Parisian painting brings the fifties to life

  6 September 2012     Archived

Erik Laubscher studied under Maurice van Essche at the Continental School of Art in Cape Town in 1946 and 1947. His studies at the Anglo-French Art Centre in London in the following two years exposed him to respected artists who were pushing the boundaries of modernist art, but it was the period he spent in Paris at the Acadmie Montmartre, from 1950 to 1951 under Fernand Lger, which had the greatest impact on the development of his painting style. Both favoured bright primary colours and strong lines that defined forms or even operated quite independently of form.


In Still Life with Coffee Pot, painted shortly after his arrival in Paris, the dramatic elements of his mature style are already visible. Laubscher has utilised strong black outlines or their converse – a black object outlined in a delicate turquoise. A hot tamale colour boldly extends across the upper half the painting enlivening the surface with vigorous brush textures. Against this searing heat, cool blues cover the foreground in patterns that evoke the abstract painters such as Alfred Manessier who came to prominence in Paris in the late forties and fifties.

Laubscher’s highly developed sense of composition, derived from his understanding and appreciation of Léger and of Georges Braque, provides structure and visual excitement. The fruit bowl and coffee pot are perfectly balanced with the juicy pear on the left and the scattered cherries in the foreground. Léger’s theories of light, inspired by studies of stained glass windows, were clearly a strong influence on the younger artist.

These skills and experiences were generously shared with his peers and his many students after his return to South Africa. In acknowledging the role he played as an artist, educator and impassioned arts activist for over half a century, particularly in the Western Cape, Hans Fransen maintains that “few people have played a more decisive role than Erik Laubscher in changing a largely parochial, conservative climate into an environment much more receptive to art in all its  manifestations”. ¹

Important South African & International Art, Furniture, Silver, Ceramics, Glass & Jewellery
including the Vivienne Linder Collection

Monday 8 October 2012
The Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town
Preview: Friday 5 to Sunday 7 October from 10am to 5pm
Enquiries: 021 683 6560/ 078 044 8185

Erik Laubscher

Still Life with Coffee Pot
R400 000 – 600 000
¹ Hans Fransen, Erik Laubscher: A Life in Art, SMAC Art Gallery, Stellenbosch, 2009, page2.

2012 Press Archive

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