John Keith Vaughan was born in Selsey in West Sussex in 1912. He worked in a local advertising company until the First World War broke out in 1914, but it was until the Second World War that Vaughan was conscripted. During his time in the military he met fellow artists such as Graham Sutherland and John Craxton, who both had a profound effect on the young Neo-Romantic Vaughan. After his service Vaughn taught in Camberwell School of Art in London and was a guest lecturer at The Slade. Nearing the tragic end of his life Vaughan spent prolonged periods of time in rural Essex, the influence of which we can see in his landscapes.
Unlike many of his contemporaries Vaughan was self-taught which is remarkable when one looks at his international recognition and fame. The method in which Vaughan painted was that of a tortured simplicity; focusing mostly on the male nude Vaughan abstracted both form and figure. Vaughan’s figures have a sense of tortured simplicity surrounding them, their faces ripe with emotion and feeling, which can be directly linked to the artist’s own feelings of anguish. Vaughan wrote over one million words in journals, which often discussed the repressed sensuality behind his paintings, the result of which is truly captured in the paint. Keith Vaughan is the British leader for the depiction of the male nude and his examination of humanity is unparalleled in Modern British Art.
Marlborough New London Gallery, London, Keith Vaughan: Paintings, Gouaches & Charcoals 1964
Barbican Art Gallery, London, A Paradise Lost: The Neo-Romantic Imagination in Britain 1935-55 1987
Tate Britain Collection
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