Explore the Era

Delve into the postwar Los Angeles art world in this online archive, which provides additional material related to the exhibitions on view at the Getty Center. Learn about hipsters and happenings, and the venues across the city where all the action took place through images from the archives and first-hand accounts with the artists.


Untitled, John McLaughlin

Untitled, 1952, John McLaughlin. Oil and casein on fiberboard. 32 1/8 x 48 1/8 in. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Joseph H. Hirshhorn Purchase Fund, 1991. Photographer: Lee Stalsworth

Strongly influenced by his immersion in Eastern cultures, John McLaughlin took a philosophical and spiritual approach to his painting, stressing simplicity of form, the presence of emptiness, and the neutrality of color. His hard-edge abstractions typically center on forms that serve as void-like elements, such as rectangles, squares, and bars. As his work developed through the 1950s, McLaughlin’s investigations of symmetry and composition became increasingly complex, a technique he achieved by layering adjacent planes and colors. As in many of McLaughlin’s works, this formal tension causes the geometric elements to perspectivally shift back and forth. Beginning in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, McLaughlin moved away from purely neutral use of color and instead began exploring vivid, complementary colors that would heighten these effects.

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Exhibition audio: Learn about the influence of Japanese culture on McLaughlin’s work.

Historic Map Locations

Works of Art

  • #18–1961

    #18–1961, 1961, John McLaughlin. Oil on canvas. 48 x 60 in. Private Collection

  • #8, 1966, John McLaughlin.

    # 8, 1966, John McLaughlin. Oil on canvas. 48 x 60 in. The Marilynn and Carl Thoma Collection. Image courtesy of Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York

Explore the Archive

  • Abstract Classicists

    Abstract Classicists meet at Lorser Feitelson’s studio in Los Angeles, May 10, 1959

  • John McLaughlin

    John McLaughlin in front of one of his paintings, ca. 1975. Photo by Frank J. Thomas. Courtesy of the Frank J. Thomas Archives