New York

John McLaughlin

André Emmerich Gallery

Very difficult, the small John McLaughlin retrospective. So gentle are the earlier paintings, small and vulnerable, so muted, refined and retiring the later ones—they threaten to self-efface at any moment. The bodiless paint, the textureless surfaces, the neutral formats, the old-time thin stretchers—the object is very shy. If you find yourself in the right mood, they disappear. McLaughlin wanted this to happen; his attempt was to induce states of transcendental contemplation, of turning back into yourself, going beyond “mere” appearance, getting in touch with “interior sensibilities” “emanating from the reservoir of experience beyond the oppressive demands imposed by objectification.”

But for all the severe simplicity, the monkish spirituality, this appearance is not so transparent. One painting has a black band around its bottom which so greatly shrinks the perception of the canvas width

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the January 1980 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.