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John McLaughlin papers, 1922-1979

John McLaughlin papers, 1922-1979

McLaughlin, John, 1898-1976

Painter

Collection Information

Size: 3.3 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Southern California art dealer and abstract painter John McLaughlin measure 3.3 linear feet and date from 1922 to 1979. The collection documents John McLaughlin's personal life and career through biographical material, correspondence, writings, Tamarind Lithography fellowship files, scattered personal business records, printed materials, artwork, and photographic material.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Dwyer McLaughlin (1898-1976) was best known as one of the leading Los Angeles "hard-edge" geometric abstractionist painters and one of the artists featured in the seminal 1959 exhibition "Four Abstract Classicists" curated by Jules Langsner.

Provenance

The John McLaughlin papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in multiple installments. John McLaughlin donated material in 1973 and his widow Florence McLaughlin donated material in 1976. Additional papers were donated by the artist's nephew John McLaughlin in 1998 and 1999.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the John McLaughlin papers, 1922-1979 in the Archives of American Art
AAA.mclajohn
Author
Finding aid prepared by Rihoko Ueno
Biographical/Historical note
John Dwyer McLaughlin (1898-1976) was best known as one of the leading Los Angeles "hard-edge" geometric abstractionist painters and one of the artists featured in the seminal 1959 exhibition "Four Abstract Classicists" curated by Jules Langsner. McLaughlin was also a dealer of Japanese art prints.
McLaughlin was born and educated in Massachusetts. He served in the United States Navy during World War I from 1917-1921 and married Florence Emerson in 1928. McLaughlin began painting around 1932 with no formal training. In 1935, the couple moved to Japan and lived for several years before moving back to Boston, where they opened The Tokaido, Inc., a Japanese art print gallery. From this time up to the beginning of World War II, McLaughlin worked primarily as a print dealer, without huge success. During World War II, he served as a language intelligence officer in the Marines, primarily because of his knowledge of Japanese.
After the war, McLaughlin and his wife settled in Dana Point, California, where he began painting in earnest, gaining some early local successes. His painting,
Hope Deferred
was awarded first prize for oil painting in the 1948 San Diego Art Guild Annual. He became associated with the Felix Landau Gallery in Los Angeles and was one of four painters included in the historic 1959 "Four Abstract Classicists" exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art organized by critic Jules Langsner which also featured the work of Frederick Hammersley, Lorser Feitelson, and Karl Benjamin. The phrase "hard-edge painting" was first used in association with this exhibition as a description of a unique California style of geometric abstractionist painting.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s McLaughlin exhibited widely and became a mentor for many younger Los Angeles area reductive painters. He was widely admired for his integrity and independent position regarding the art market. John McLaughlin died in Dana Point, California in 1976 at the age of 77.
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 8 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1942-circa 1969 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1936-1976 (0.7 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1934-1976 (0.7 linear feet; Box 1-2)
Series 4: Tamarind Lithography Fellowship Files, 1958-1970 (0.2 linear feet; Box 2)
Series 5: Personal Business Records, circa 1938-1974 (0.2 linear feet; Box 2)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1932-1979 (1.5 linear feet; Box 2-4)
Series 7: Artwork, circa 1958 (0.1 linear feet; Box 3-4)
Series 8: Photographic Material, 1922-1979 (0.2 linear feet; Box 3)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of Southern California art dealer and abstract painter John McLaughlin measure 3.3 linear feet and date from 1922 to 1979. The collection documents John McLaughlin's personal life and career through biographical material, correspondence, writings, Tamarind Lithography fellowship files, scattered personal business records, printed materials, artwork, and photographic material.
Biographical material includes McLaughlin's military service records, art awards, and resumes. Correspondence is with friends, artists, museums, and galleries. Notable correspondents include Eugene Anderson, Karl Benjamin, Frederick Hammersley, Jules Langsner, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Ad Reinhardt, and others. Writings and notes include several artist statements, lectures, notes, and lists and descriptions of paintings, some in the form of hand drawn sketches. Users will find McLaughlin's ideas about his work and aesthetics are referenced in much of the correspondence and writings. Some of the letters also document the evolution of the 1959 "Four Abstract Classicists" exhibition, particularly correspondence with Karl Benjamin, Peter Selz, and Jules Langsner. There are also writings about McLaughlin by others, including Jules Langsner. The Tamarind Lithography fellowship files consists of the letter of appointment, printed material, and profiles for fellow artists at the workshop.
Personal business records include assorted legal and financial papers, such as contracts with galleries, art loan agreements, consignment records, and art shipment expenses. There are business papers about McLaughlin's Japanese print gallery, The Tokaido, Inc. Printed material consists of exhibition catalogs for McLaughlin's shows at the Andre Emmerich Gallery, Felix Landau Gallery, a retrospective at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1968, and the seminal 1959 "Four Abstract Classicists" in Los Angeles, among others. Also found are exhibition announcements, news clippings, and press releases. Artwork includes a few paintings and collages. Photographs, negatives, and slides are of McLaughlin, including one portrait by John Waggaman), artwork, and exhibition installations. There is one album of photographs from a 1963 retrospective exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum.
Provenance
The John McLaughlin papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in multiple installments. John McLaughlin donated material in 1973 and his widow Florence McLaughlin donated material in 1976. Additional papers were donated by the artist's nephew John McLaughlin in 1998 and 1999.
Related Archival Materials note
The Archives of American Art also holds an oral history interview of John D. McLaughlin conducted July 23, 1974, by Paul J. Karlstrom.
Processing Information note
Portions of the collection were microfilmed on reels 1410-1413 soon after they were donated to the archives. The papers were fully processed according to current archival standards by Rihoko Ueno in 2014 with funding from the Frederick Hammersley Foundation.

Additional Forms Available

Portions of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 1410-1413 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the order of the microfilm does not reflect the current arrangement of the papers.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

John McLaughlin papers, 1922-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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