Artist Profile

John McLaughlin


John McLaughlin was a pioneer of the hard-edge abstraction that was such a distinctive element in progressive West Coast art of the period after World War II. He spent several years in Japan during the 1930s, studied Japanese art, and mastered the language, serving in the war as a military translator. In his painting he looked both east and west – to the less-is-more elegance of Japanese design, to the meditative calm of Zen Buddhism, and to the geometric abstraction of the early twentieth-century European painters Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. “My purpose is to achieve the totally abstract,” he wrote. “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 benefit of a guiding principle. I must therefore free the viewer from the demands or special qualities imposed by the particular by omitting the image (object). This I manage by the use of neutral forms.” McLaughlin lived and worked in Dana Point from 1946 until his death in 1976.



Works in Our Collection

John McLaughlin
Oil on canvas, 1975
60 x 48 inches
Gift of Mrs. John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin
Construction paper, 1963
11 x 15 inches
Museum Purchase, Margaret Kuntz Fund