John McLaughlin's #17, 1966 is an example of the Hard-edge painting style that was popularized by a number of California artists in the 1960s. The stark palette and geometric composition highlight the contrast between the broad brushstrokes of matte black paint and the narrow brushstrokes of glossy white. McLaughlin's paintings evoke the works of artists such as Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, but he always emphasized his artistic connection to Asia, particularly Japanese art. He favored Asian paintings because "they made me wonder who I was. By contrast, Western painters tried to tell me who they were." McLaughlin believed that his paintings evoked Asian philosophical ideals and could encourage enlightenment in the viewer. (Charles Desmarais, "A New Kind of Heroism: [John] McLaughlin's #17, 1966," American Art 7, no. 1 (Winter 1993): 97-98; Michael Duncan, "John McLaughlin: Transcending the Particular," Art in America (Sept. 1997): 84-87)
This painting is currently on view on the third floor of the Museum in the Contemporary Art galleries.