Artist biography

English painter and writer. He abandoned a career in advertising in 1939 to pursue painting. From 1941 to 1944 he served in the Pioneer Corps. His drawings of army life, however, such as Breakfast in the Marquee (1942; see Vaughan, p. 49), attracted attention and he entered the circle of Peter Watson in London. From 1946 to 1952 he shared a studio with John Minton. As a younger generation Neo-Romantic he was heavily influenced by Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore and William Blake. During the 1950s Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse were major influences, but most important was that of Nicolas De Stael, who enabled him to reconcile figurative and abstract elements. He was essentially a painter of figure compositions that attempted to balance male nudes with abstract environments, exemplified by his nine Assemblies begun in 1952.

After 1945 Vaughan travelled in the Mediterranean, North Africa, Mexico and the USA, where he was resident artist at Iowa State University in 1959. He taught in London at Camberwell School of Art (1946–8) and the Central School of Arts and Crafts (1948–57) and was a visiting teacher at the Slade School of Fine Art (1959–77). His remarkable journal (1939–77), inspired by André Gide, reveals the tension in his life and work between intellectual puritanism and unrepressed sensuality. His work can be regarded as an expression of his feelings about the male body. Despite considerable success, including the award of a CBE in 1965, he became increasingly melancholic and reclusive.

Bibliography
A Paradise Lost: The Neo-Romantic Imagination in Britain, 1935–55 (exh. cat., ed. D. Mellor; London, Barbican A.G., 1987)
M. Yorke: The Spirit of the Place: Nine Neo-Romantic Artists and their Times (London, 1988), pp. 225–84, passim

VIRGINIA BUTTON

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