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A personal recollection by Kathryn Berman Including excerpts from the original recorded four-day conversation between Maggie and EsmĂŠ Berman, in 1968. Originally commissioned for presentation at STRAUSS & CO JOHANNESBURG. TUESDAY 30 OCTOBER 2018: 18h00



The following presentation has been edited for release on the internet. Kindly contact us on for a copy of the full presentation and essay. Kathryn is also available as a keynote presenter for your event.

Maggie Laubser Was 82 in February 1968 When She Was Interviewed Over the Course of Four Days by my Mother, Esmé Berman, at Maggie’s Home, Altyd Lig, in the Strand (Cape) About her Life and Work.

This Talk includes revelations and excerpts from that original taped interview (conversation) between Esmé Berman and Maggie Laubser over the three days in February 1968. The interview forms the basis of the entry on Maggie Laubser in Esmé’s Definitive ‘Art & Artists of South Africa’, 1971.

Opening Video available on:

As told to Esmé then…

Magdalena Maria (Maggie) Laubser was born in 1886 on the wheat farm, Bloublommetjieskloof, in the Malmesbury district of the Western Cape.

Maggie was the oldest of six children born to an Afrikaans father and Danish mother.

She died on 11 May 1973, at her home Altyd Lig in the Strand.

In between she lived in Cape Town, Ermelo‌

The Netherlands, England, Belgium, Germany, Italy.

She settled in the Strand in 1942.

“I left school at fifteen years old….“I had to leave school because there wasn’t money to send the others to boarding school.”

“…And that was my life…”

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Pic: Ballot.M( 2016) Venster op Altyd Lig

“I was nine years old when my father gave me a horse to ride. And I used to get up early in the mornings.

Then my father would say: ‘Wat wil jy so vroeg opstaan?’ ‘Ek wil die son sien opgaan’. I want to see the sunrise”

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It is strange, but wonderful, to get up so early and take the horse. And canter. And feel the horse keeping time, keeping pace with all the beauty around. You have no idea�.

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And while Maggie had her chores cut out for her on the farm at age 15: “I wanted to do something creative. That urge was so strong .. Not just sewing.. But if only somebody encouraged me. But nobody encouraged me!� Press for Audio

Until…. One Day… In Sea Point, London Road…

Her first patron…but not her last

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Fast Forward to 1914: Not one for the studio method‌ this lasted her whole life.. She reminisces about the Slade, Europe, Expressionism on that, and the subsequent, visit

German Expressionist

Max Pechstein


“I imagine and I draw”

“I was just starting – doing Expressionistic work… And then I showed my works at an exhibition. And they slated me!

“Why would any normal, sane human being in all of South Africa appreciate as a work of art, to enjoy as a picture...the one sent by Maggie Laubser?"Â

Newspaper critic Bernard Lewis 1932

Please contact us on for the full presentation

“You know Esmé, to me art is anything you feel – anything; whatever you feel. Express it… And perhaps in a year’s time you feel differently. Why not? Why should that be …condemned?”

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To her last days, Maggie would wake up and make her way to her studio: “I paint in the mornings when I am fresh.� Two hours was enough by then. And then she would attend to chores.

“To See the Beauty in Everything…

That is the only way to be Alive”.

“Then you get Conscious”.

Esmé, like Maggie, died at 87.

She, like Maggie, continued to work until her death. In her last years, she fulfilled the promises made to the artists that she loved and respected:

With Karel Nel, she wrote the mammoth two volume catalogue raisonné and biography on Alexis Preller

published in her 80th year.

For Raisonné Publishers, she was commissioned to write a series of monographs - on Pierneef, Stern, Battiss, and

her long-promised monograph. (All unpublished to date)

While many academic works have been written by other academics in the interim… this was a labour of love. Please contact us for the full presentation

Maggie Laubser Timeline

BORN 14 April 1886 Eldest of 6 STUDY; EXHIBIT 1903; 1907&10 Cape Town GOVERNESS 1912 Ermelo MEET JHA BALWE 1913 Durban

HOLLAND 1913 With Sister by boat SLADE 1914 London EUROPE 1919-1921 JHA & Arnold Balwe SA - BERLIN 1922 - 1924 Blaue Reiter

SOUTH AFRICA 1924 Oortmanspost CAPE TOWN 1937 Three Anchor Bay STRAND 1942

DIES 1972

Profile for Africa Contemporary Space

Remembering Maggie Laubser  

A visual teaser of a multi-media presentation commissioned by Strauss&Co. The presentation by Kathryn Berman (Kathy) includes excerpts from...

Remembering Maggie Laubser  

A visual teaser of a multi-media presentation commissioned by Strauss&Co. The presentation by Kathryn Berman (Kathy) includes excerpts from...

Profile for spacesite

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