Erik Laubscher: Nature morte - SOLD
Erik Laubscher (b 1927)
Nature morte - 1953/4
Oil on canvas
73 x 92 cm
Signed and dated bottom left
Sold - 2011
Erik Laubscher recalls with great appreciation the weekly studio sessions when Fernand Léger would criticize, examine and discuss the students work, including his, at the Académie Montmartre in Paris during the early 1950s. Concepts such as contrast, monumentality, colour, and spatial organization were explored and debated during these sessions, and this had a lasting influence on Laubscher’s art and career. Léger expressed his philosophy regarding abstraction as follows:
Composition takes precedence over all else. To obtain their maximum expressiveness, lines, forms and colours must be employed with the utmost possible logic. It is the logical spirit that will achieve the greatest result, and by the logical spirit in art, I mean the power to order one’s sensibility and to concentrate one’s means in order to yield the maximum effect in the result.
While Laubscher was deeply immersed in the French avant-garde climate during his Paris years, the prevailing spirit of Existentialism made him realise the importance of an artist’s authenticity of expression. Staying true to the teachings of his tutor, Fernand Léger, he never entirely moved away from the actual forms as observed in the real world, except for a few experiments into non-figuration.
Hans Fransen, in Erik Laubscher: A life in Art , explains that Laubscher has always been captivated both by the shapes of the world around him and by those he could construct on his canvas, making them interact as he saw fit, painting what is already abstract before he even paints it. His objective is not to copy the world, but to abstract it – to a greater or lesser degree – for the sake of picture-making .
In ‘Nature morte’, painted in 1953-4, Léger’s unmistakable influence is still very much evident in Laubscher’s approach. He is, however, showing signs of his individual authenticity in terms of the rhythmic character of the composition, while his striking choice of palette is an indication of what to expect in the decades to follow. The open book, showing an image of a work by Léger, pays homage to his mentor and symbolises the conceptual reference for this Modern version of a still life. Laubscher lends further credibility to the originality of this work by giving it a local Cape flavor, choosing apples, pears and grapes as elements in its composition. This serves as a declaration of intent whereby he acknowledges his influences and training, but applies them in an individualistic manner to capture whatever inspires him in his immediate environment.
Collection of Mr Joe Wolpe
Hans Fransen, Erik Laubscher: A life in Art , Stellenbosch, 2009, pp 22, 23 and 255