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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN was born in Sharon, Massachusetts in 1898. McLaughlin served in the United States Navy during World War I and both the United States Marine Corps and the United States Army Intelligence during World War II. Between the two periods of wartime, he attended the University of Honolulu in Hawaii, where he studied Japanese. After serving in Japan, India, China, and Burma, McLaughlin and his wife Florence Emerson (grandniece of Ralph Waldo Emerson) settled in Dana Point, CA in 1946, and he began to paint full time. 

McLaughlin never received formal artistic training, and was largely self-taught. When he started painting in the late 1940s, he was one of the few American artists experimenting with abstraction at the time. His extensive travel experiences—especially those in Asia—became influential elements in his work. He also drew inspiration from Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, who similarly relied on simplification of form and palette in their compositions. 

McLaughlin had his first solo exhibition at the Felix Landau Gallery in Los Angeles, CA in 1952, and his work has been exhibited widely across the United States. In 1959, his work was included in the San Francisco Museum of Art’s “Four Abstract Classicists” group exhibition, featuring Lorser Feitelson, Frederick Hammersley, and Karl Benjamin. This monumental exhibition of the Californian “hard-edge painting” style carved its place in art history as the West Coast rebuttal to New York’s Abstract Expressionism.

His work is included in many permanent collections across the country including Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Miami Museum of Art, Miami, FL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA; San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, CT; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

John McLaughlin died in Dana Point, CA in 1976.

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