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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: 20th century: #17, 1966
John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin

(born Sharon, MA 1898 -- died Dana Point, CA 1976)

"My purpose is to achieve the totally abstract. I want to communicate only to the extent that the painting will serve to induce or intensify the viewer's natural desire for contemplation without the benefit of a guiding principle." (John McLaughlin, exh. cat. Los Angeles: Felix Landau Gallery, Jan. 29- Feb. 17, 1962)

John McLaughlin was passionate about Japanese art from an early age and longed to live in East Asia. His parents encouraged this enthusiasm by frequently taking him on trips to the Asian art collection at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. As an adult, McLaughlin held various roles, from serving in the U.S. Navy to selling real estate, but he fulfilled his lifelong dream in 1935 when he moved to Japan and immersed himself in the culture. A few years later, he returned to Boston and began painting while also running an Asian art gallery. McLaughlin later devoted himself exclusively to painting, and he had his first solo exhibition in 1953 at the age of fifty-five. His work is associated with the California Hard-edge style, paintings characterized by geometric compositions, straight edges, and rich, solid colors. Never formally trained, McLaughlin experienced great success on the commercial art market and had regular solo exhibitions that continued after his death in 1976. (Figoten, Sheldon. "An Appreciation of John McLaughlin." Archives of American Art Journal 20, no. 4 (1980): 10-16)

Image Credits: John McLaughlin, 1959. Unidentified photographer, from John McLaughlin papers, courtesy Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.