John McLaughlin (American, 1898-1976) #1 1972

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Lot 7
John McLaughlin
(American, 1898-1976)
#1
1972

Sold for US$ 187,575 inc. premium
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT BAY AREA COLLECTION
John McLaughlin (American, 1898-1976)
#1
1972

signed, titled and dated 1972 on the reverse
oil on canvas

48 by 60 in.
122 by 152 cm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
    Private Collection, USA
    Linda Zweig Fine Art, San Francisco
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1986

    Exhibited
    New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Less Is More, 1977, no. 5


    "My purpose is to achieve the totally abstract. I want to communicate only to the extent that my painting will serve to induce or intensify the viewer's natural desire for contemplation without the benefit of a guiding principle."
    - John McLaughlin

    John McLaughlin first rose to prominence after his work was included in LACMA's ground-breaking 1959 exhibition Four Abstract Classicists, which solidified the West Coast abstract painting movement. In reviewing this show for the LA Times, the art critic and curator Jules Langster coined the term Hard-Edge Painting to describe this new style that centered on a reduction to blocks of color and simple geometric forms. The artistic community in Los Angeles and the wider art world followed suit, creating a new form of abstract painting.

    John McLaughlin is a singular artist, who did not begin painting abstract works until his 40s and chose to live in idyllic beach towns over the more vibrant Los Angeles art scene. Although he had no formal artistic training, he had a lifelong interest in Chinese and Japanese art, particularly the austere black-and-white landscapes of the Zen monk-painter Sesshū. He wanted to recreate the "ma": the poetic space and interval between things that animate Japanese art.

    This present work #1 from 1972 was featured as the sole example to represent McLaughlin's oeuvre in Sidney Janis Gallery's seminal exhibition Less is More in 1977. This show brought together the entire history of abstraction, from Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, to McLaughlin's international contemporaries Frank Stella, Bridget Riley, Brice Marden and Robert Ryman, among others.

    McLaughlin's work is often seen as the precursor to the Californian Light and Space movement and he is noted as inspiration for countless other West Coast artists. His canon has finally gained larger recognition after a major retrospective of his work staged at LACMA in 2017 and other examples can be found at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.

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