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Faces to Watch in '96 : The Year's in Their Hands : Well, maybe not just theirs (notice we don't list Jim Carrey). But these artists and entertainers--some you know, some you don't--are most likely to make some kind of splash in '96. Ready? Everybody into the pool. : ART : John McLaughlin

January 07, 1996|Christopher Knight

In addition to being the first major Modernist artist to emerge in postwar Los Angeles, John McLaughlin (1898-1976) also fertilized the local cultural landscape in two fundamental ways. First, when the legendary exhibition "Four Abstract Classicists" (McLaughlin, Lorser Feitelson, Frederick Hammersley and Karl Benjamin) traveled from the L.A. County Museum to London in 1959, the show gave Los Angeles its first coherent claim to international significance as a center for modern art. And second, McLaughlin's elegantly spare geometric abstractions established a rigorous aesthetic of perceptual refinement, which became a hallmark of art produced in L.A. From the acclaimed Light-and-Space installations of the 1960s and 1970s to John M. Miller's luminous paintings today, McLaughlin is their great forebear.

Shockingly, neither LACMA nor the Museum of Contemporary Art has ever mounted a retrospective exhibition of this seminal figure's extraordinary paintings. That critically important task has been taken up by the little Laguna Art Museum, not far from McLaughlin's former home and garage-studio in Dana Point: A much-anticipated survey opens there July 20.

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