Keith Vaughan 1912-1977


Keith Vaughan, together with Sutherland, Nash, Piper and Moore as predecessors, was one of the artists inspired by the ‘Neo-Romantic movement which marked the immediate post-war years in Britain. These artists generally responded in a more figurative style to the English landscape and literary tradition, with idyllic overtones.  Vaughan established a balance between the figurative and abstraction, with the male figure constituting the core of his images.


Vaughan was self-taught, having previously worked as a commercial artist until 1939.  He stood out from his contemporaries, despite being associated with Ayrton and Minton. He even confessed to believing himself to be out of step with his times, ‘I find echoes in Auden, Beethoven, Cezanne, but in no living person’.  Stylistically he touches mostly upon Cézanne, Matisse and De Stael. His oeuvre represents a lifetime search into the iconography of the human body and its intrinsic qualities. It conveys a universal image of man and also becomes a vehicle for the expression of his emotions.


By the 1940’s, his visual syntax had been established, the influence of the abstract movement only adding to his imaginative verve and allowing him to express his feelings in a depersonalised image of man.  His subject matter reflects a sensitive and self-conscious character as well as a sense of solitude and poignancy, which reveal both personal and social tension.


Vaughan’s work was always highly regarded by a wide public.  He taught at Camberwell and later at the Central School and was a visiting teacher at the Slade. Today his work is included in almost all exhibitions concentrating on the post-war era.