A Finding Aid to the John McLaughlin papers, 1922-1979 in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.mclajohn
Creators:
McLaughlin, John, 1898-
Dates:
1922-1979
bulk 1936-1976
Languages:
English
The collection is in English.
Physical Description:
3.4 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of Southern California art dealer and abstract painter John McLaughlin measure 3.4 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.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of Southern California art dealer and abstract painter John McLaughlin measure 3.4 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.

Arrangement
Arrangement
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 (0.2 linear feet; Box 3-5)
  • Series 8: Photographic Material, 1922-1979 (0.2 linear feet; Box 3)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
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.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 1410-1413 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the material described in the container inventory does not reflect the arrangement of the collection on microfilm.
Processing Information
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. The 2015 addition was processed in 2019 by Ryan Evans.
Author
Rihoko Ueno
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Frederick Hammersley Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
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. A painting was donated 2015 by Stephne' Hesen estate.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing 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.
Conditions Governing Use
The John McLaughlin papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Preferred Citation
John McLaughlin papers, 1922-1979, bulk 1936-1976. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds an oral history interview of John D. McLaughlin conducted July 23, 1974, by Paul J. Karlstrom.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Paintings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern -- California -- Los Angeles Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art dealers -- California Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, Abstract -- California -- Exhibitions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- California Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Collages Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Prints, Japanese Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Benjamin, Karl Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Anderson, Eugene Newton Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Salz, Peter Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tamarind Lithography Workshop Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Langsner, Jules, 1911-1967 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
McLaughlin, John, 1898- -- Photographs Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Felix Landau Gallery Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pasadena Art Museum Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
André Emmerich Gallery Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Corcoran Gallery of Art Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Reinhardt, Ad, 1913-1967 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Macdonald-Wright, Stanton, 1890-1973 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hammersley, Frederick, 1919-2009 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/