Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Los Angeles, CA
Long acknowledged in Southern California as one of the most important artists of the postwar period, John McLaughlin (1898-1976) created a focused body of geometric paintings that are entirely devoid of any connection to everyday experience, inspired by the Japanese notion of the void. Using a technique of layering rectangular bars on adjacent planes of muted color, McLaughlin creates works that provoke introspection and, consequently, a greater understanding of one’s relationship to nature.
The exhibition consists of 52 paintings and a selection of collages and drawings that will establish McLaughlin as one of the foremost innovators of total abstraction.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether you go or not, the fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue, John McLaughlin Paintings: Total Abstraction, is the first the first hardcover book on the artist. This long-overdue retrospective on a pioneer of West Coast abstraction considers John McLaughlin’s body of work and his unique influence on the Los Angeles postwar art scene. For decades before his death in 1976, John McLaughlin steadily produced some of the most fascinating paintings coming out of Southern California. Minimal geometric abstractions characterized by clean lines, bold colors, and flat, intersecting forms, McLaughlin’s paintings investigate symmetry and composition, and are largely informed by the Japanese notion of ma―the special emptiness between forms.
Generously illustrated with more than 80 images, the book features reproductions of the self-taught artist’s works and celebrates their simple beauty and precision. In addition, insightful essays explore McLaughlin’s relative obscurity in the pantheon of 20th-century American artists, his influence on contemporaries and later artists, and the role of Asian art and philosophy in McLaughlin’s practice.It features essays by curator Stephanie Barron, artist Tony Berlant with co-curator Lauren Bergman, critic and independent curator Michael Duncan, LACMA's Curator of American Art Ilene Susan Fort, and professor of art at University of California, Los Angeles Russell Ferguson.