February 23, 2014


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Lot 38: John McLaughlin

Lot 38: John McLaughlin


Oil on canvas
Retains André Emmerich Gallery label on upper canvas stretcher verso; retains André Emmerich ink stamp on center canvas stretcher verso; retains partial Thomas Segal Gallery label on upper canvas stretcher verso; bears the inscription in pencil "Title A -- 1962" on upper canvas stretcher verso
Canvas: 42" x 60"
Provenance: André Emmerich Gallery, New York, New York;
Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the above, 1980)
Exhibited: "John McLaughlin Retrospective Exhibition," La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, July 12-August 12, 1973; "John McLaughlin," André Emmerich Gallery, New York, March 30-April 17, 1974; "Summer Group Show," André Emmerich Gallery, New York, 1978; "John McLaughlin Paintings: 1949-1975," André Emmerich Gallery, New York, September 11-October 3, 1979
Illustrated: John McLaughlin Retrospective Exhibition. Exhibition Catalogue. La Jolla: La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, 1973. #18, p 14.
Estimate: $180,000 - $250,000
Price Realized: $212,500
Inventory Id: 9037

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Unlike his formally trained contemporaries, John McLaughlin (1898-1976) did not devote himself full-time to painting until he moved from Boston to Southern California in 1946. He was already 61 when his paintings were exhibited in "Four Abstract Classicists." Before the mid-century, McLaughlin sold Japanese prints, served in World War II as an Army intelligence language officer, and traveled to Japan and China where he studied Asian painting. He wrote to Jules Langsner concerning his appreciation of the Asian approach to painting, "…above all the most compelling quality in this has been economy of means in concert with large, unpainted areas," he explained. "These paintings I could get into and tell me who I was. By contrast, Western painters tried to tell me who they were." In McLaughlin's work from 1962, #11-1962, he adheres to the Japanese principle of "the marvelous void," both on and off the canvas. The action seemingly continues beyond the borders of the canvas, the black rectangular abyss multiplied exponentially amidst a dimensionless atmosphere of white. This rare painting exemplifies McLaughlin's efficient use of color and form to create art separated from history and genre.

Colpitt, Frances. "Hard Edge Cool." The Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury. Ed. Elizabeth Armstrong. Newport Beach: Orange County Museum of Art, 2007. 80-106. Print.