Keith Vaughan

1912–1977

Keith Vaughan, 'Rotherhithe' 1961
Rotherhithe 1961
© The estate of Keith Vaughan
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Biography

Keith Vaughan, 'Ninth Assembly of Figures (Eldorado Banal)' 1976
Keith Vaughan
Ninth Assembly of Figures (Eldorado Banal) 1976
© The estate of Keith Vaughan

John Keith Vaughan (23 August 1912 – 4 November 1977) was a British painter.

Born in Selsey, Vaughan attended Christ's Hospital school. He worked in an advertising agency until the war, when as an intending conscientious objector he joined the St John Ambulance; in 1941 he was conscripted into the Non-Combatant Corps. Vaughan was self-taught as an artist. His first exhibitions took place during the war. In 1942 he was stationed at Ashton Gifford near Codford in Wiltshire, and paintings from this time include The Wall at Ashton Gifford (Manchester Art Gallery).

Also during the war Vaughan formed friendships with the painters Graham Sutherland and John Minton, with whom after demobilization in 1946 he shared premises. Through these contacts he formed part of the neo-romantic circle of the immediate post-war period. However, Vaughan rapidly developed an idiosyncratic style which moved him away from the Neo-Romantics. Concentrating on studies of male figures, his works became increasingly abstract.

Vaughan worked as an art teacher at the Camberwell College of Arts, the Central School of Art and later at the Slade School.

Vaughan is also known for his journals, selections from which were published in 1966 and more extensively in 1989, after his death. A gay man troubled by his sexuality, he is known largely through those journals. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1975 and committed suicide in 1977 in London, recording his last moments in his diary as the drugs overdose took effect.

The centenary of Keith Vaughan's birth was celebrated with an exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, 'Keith Vaughan: Romanticism to Abstraction' (10 March to 10 June 2012).

His auction record of £313,250 was set at Sotheby's, London, on 11 November 2009, for the oil on canvas Theseus and the Minotaur, previously in the collection of Richard Attenborough (who bought it in 1967).

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Tate Archive 40th Anniversary Special: highlights from artists’ archives acquired in recent years are selected by family, friends and admirers

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Keith Vaughan Journal number one

25 August–15 October 1939
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