LAMA BLOG

John McLaughlin: The Abstract Classicist

February 3, 2014

Los Angeles Modern Auctions is proud to announce that a John McLaughlin painting, #11-1962, will be offered in the February 23, 2014 Modern Art & Design Auction, among a selection of paintings by the Four Abstract Classicists.

A generation older than his peers, John McLaughlin was set apart from other Hard Edge painters of the mid-twentieth century by his personal experiences and lack of formal training. McLaughlin served in WWI, and later as a Japanese translator for the U.S. Army intelligence in WWII. Prior to his service as a translator, he lived in Japan during the late 1930s to devote himself to the study of the art and language of the country. By the time he settled in Southern California and participated in the “Four Abstract Classicists” exhibition at the age of 61, McLaughlin had already formulated an aesthetic based on symmetry, drawing influence from Eastern philosophies teaching the importance of balance and reflection.

#11-1962 (1962), John McLaughlin

This painting comes from a private collector who purchased it in 1980 from the venerable André Emmerich Gallery in New York. #11-1962 comes with a rich exhibition history, shown at “John McLaughlin – A Retrospective Exhibition” at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art in 1973, in addition to several exhibitions at André Emmerich Gallery through the mid-to-late 1970s.

Detail of ink stamp, #11-1962 (1962), John McLaughlin

As McLaughlin advanced throughout the 1960s, so did his compositions, becoming more refined as he purged unnecessary elements from the process and the painting itself. 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. In #11-1962, every element, stroke of the brush, and choice of form within the composition is masterfully executed, with each aspect proving its equivalent importance. This rare painting exemplifies McLaughlin’s efficient use of color and form to create art separated from history and genre.

Verso, #11-1962 (1962), John McLaughlin

The February 23, 2014 Modern Art & Design Auction will feature several paintings by all four Abstract Classicists: John McLaughlin, Karl Benjamin, Frederick Hammersley, and Lorser Feitelson.

Lot Information:

Lot 38
John McLaughlin
#11-1962

1962
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

For more information, or details on how to bid, please contact a LAMA representative.

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