Articles & Facts

STATEMENT ON PAINTING (1951)

STATEMENT ON PAINTING (1951)

Keith Vaughan

In 1951, Michael Rothenstein asked some of the artists that he respected to write about painting. Graywell’s Press, the commissioning publishers for the project, subsequently folded and the texts were never used. Here is Keith Vaughan’s contribution.

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VE DAY

VE DAY

By Keith Vaughan

Vaughan’s essay VE Day was first published in Penguin New Writing no. 26, 1945. It was one of several articles that he wrote for John Lehmann. Towards the end of the piece Vaughan conjures up a Palmeresque, sheep-filled, pastoral vision.

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KEITH VAUGHAN CONSIDERED FROM A SCULPTOR'S PERSPECTIVE

KEITH VAUGHAN CONSIDERED FROM A SCULPTOR'S PERSPECTIVE

By John Fuller

Keith Vaughan emerged as a commanding figure in British art during the post-war years. His early training as, what was then fashionably called, a commercial artist sowed the seeds for his later, extraordinary draughtsmanship and compositional daring. His interest in...

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A VISIT TO KEITH VAUGHAN'S STUDIO by BRIAN HANCOCK

A VISIT TO KEITH VAUGHAN'S STUDIO by BRIAN HANCOCK

April 16, 1962

I had no exposure or interest in art until my undergraduate years at Manchester University. I read a book about Picasso and this prompted a visit to the large retrospective at the Tate Gallery in 1961. I was drawn out of curiosity to the Manchester Whitworth Art Gallery...

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KEITH VAUGHAN & JOHN MINTON

KEITH VAUGHAN & JOHN MINTON

During the 1940s Vaughan and Minton became close friends. They went out drinking together in Soho and the Café Royal with Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, met up at Peter Watson’s flat and were both employed by John Lehmann to illustrate a series of books. They...

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THE NINE ASSEMBLIES: INTRODUCTION

THE NINE ASSEMBLIES: INTRODUCTION

Gerard Hastings

Vaughan painting Second Assembly of Figures, 1953 Over the course of twenty-five years Vaughan produced nine major paintings to which he applied the title ‘Assembly of Figures’. The first dates from 1952 and the last was completed one year before he died, in 1976....

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FIRST ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES, 1952

FIRST ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES, 1952

Oil on board, 142 x 116.8 cm. Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

The four naked figures seem to have congregated for no other reason than assembling, since we are offered little evidence as to why they may have come together. They are inactive and inert, awkward and confused as they stand in the blinding, unforgiving sunshine. Somehow...

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SECOND ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES, 1953

SECOND ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES, 1953

Oil on soft board, 101.5 x 122cm. Manchester City Galleries

Vaughan’s Second Assembly of Figures retains echoes of Matisse and even more of Cézanne. He made no secret of this debt, pointing out to Gordon Hargreaves that the manner in which he ‘carved out’ his Baigneuses with thick impastos of paint, quite literally increased...

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THIRD ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES (HARVEST ASSEMBLY), 1956

THIRD ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES (HARVEST ASSEMBLY), 1956

Oil on canvas,
 113.7 x 120.6 cm. Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

Third Assembly of Figures (Harvest Assembly) is unusual in that it is the only one of Vaughan’s ‘Assembly’ painting that identifies the figures and makes clear their occupation. The three dignified, corn-coloured men simultaneously embody heroic nobility and delicate...

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FORTH ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES (TRANSFIGURATION GROUP), 1957

FORTH ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES (TRANSFIGURATION GROUP), 1957

Oil on canvas, 
114.3 x 121.9 cm. Nottingham City Museums and Galleries

Keith Vaughan, letter to New South Wales Art Gallery 15.11.1960: Figure Against a Blue Background was closely linked with another painting of the same period, now in the Nottingham Museum, originally titled Transfiguration Group (now Fourth Assembly of Figures). Subsequently...

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FIFTH ASSEMBLY (TWO FIGURES IN SEQUENCE), 1957-8

FIFTH ASSEMBLY (TWO FIGURES IN SEQUENCE), 1957-8

Oil on canvas, 
114.5 x 127 cm. 
Sir Peter Shaffer

Two figures hardly constitute and assembly and so Vaughan’s subtitle, Two Figures in Sequence, helps to make Fifth Assembly of Figures a little easier to comprehend. According to Sir Peter Shaffer he wished to imply the presence of other, unrepresented figures that...

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SIXTH ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES, 1962

SIXTH ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES, 1962

Oil on canvas,
 114.5 x 127 cm. 
Private Collection

Frances Spalding, Yorkshire Arts Association, January 1978: The Sixth Assembly of Figures is a major example of the mature style arrived at in the 1960s. Unlike earlier paintings on the same theme, the forms of the figure and landscape are no longer clearly defined,...

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SEVENTH ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES (NILE GROUP), 1964

SEVENTH ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES (NILE GROUP), 1964

Oil on canvas
, 122 x 137.5 cm. The Hargreaves & Ball Trust

The unidentified figures in Vaughan’s Seventh Assembly are on a long, slow boat journey to an unknown region. They balance precariously together, as they float away from the viewer, on a narrow barge whose prow is reduced to a formalized, sprung arc. In the...

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EIGHTH ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES (ORANGE ASSEMBLY), 1964

EIGHTH ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES (ORANGE ASSEMBLY), 1964

Oil on canvas
, 122.2 x 137.2 cm. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Professor John Ball said that Vaughan referred to the Eighth Assembly of Figures as Orange Assembly and claimed it to be one of his most radiant and confident large-scale works. Painted at a time of uncharacteristic self-assurance (the same year as Seventh Assembly of...

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NINTH ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES (ELDORADO BANAL), 1976

NINTH ASSEMBLY OF FIGURES (ELDORADO BANAL), 1976

Oil on canvas,
115 x 153 cm, Tate Britain

Linda Talbot, ‘Lost Legend’, Express and News, March 26, 1976: Eldorado, it seems, is a let-down. In Keith Vaughan’s picture, based on a disillusioned comment by Baudelaire, the men who have made it to this legendary land have the awkwardness of travellers who...

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POEM: KEITH VAUGHAN'S LAST JOURNAL

POEM: KEITH VAUGHAN'S LAST JOURNAL

Herbert Lomas (1924-2011)

I thought last night about Boulanger, baker Of warm new bread, his own, with pearly nipples, And the navel in his belly a pearl of great price. Legs straight and strong, not bulging with ripples. I kissed him many times. We had no sex. I held him in my arms and touched...

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KEITH VAUGHAN THE TEACHER

KEITH VAUGHAN THE TEACHER

By Gerard Hastings

Teaching was a vital part of Vaughan’s creative life and he held various posts. After the war, in 1946, he taught illustration and composition in the Junior School at Camberwell School of art.

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KEITH VAUGHAN ON FILM, TELEVISION & RADIO

KEITH VAUGHAN ON FILM, TELEVISION & RADIO

By Gerard Hastings

Vaughan was filmed and recorded on several occasions. During the 1950s he featured briefly in a documentary concerning the British Art world and this film has survived intact. He was filmed at least twice more: once in 1962 for a schools programme made by Granada TV...

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KEITH VAUGHAN

KEITH VAUGHAN

Exhibition List

1944 Alex Reid & Lefevre Gallery, Keith Vaughan: Gouaches & Drawings
1946 Alex Reid & Lefevre Gallery, Keith Vaughan: Paintings & Gouaches
1948 George Dix Gallery, New York, Keith Vaughan...

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KEITH VAUGHAN

KEITH VAUGHAN

Biographical Details

1912 Born in Selsey Bill, Sussex, in rented accommodation called ‘The Nook’ above the High Street post office. Difficult early childhood after his father left the family. Moves to North London...

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KEITH VAUGHAN

KEITH VAUGHAN

Select Bibliography

1942 Keith Vaughan, ‘Journal Extract’, Penguin New Writing, no. 12 1944 Keith Vaughan, ‘Foreword’, Keith Vaughan: Gouaches & Drawings, exh. cat., London: Alex Reid & Lefevre Keith Vaughan, ‘Some Notes on the Art of Illustration’, Penguin New Writing,...

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KEITH VAUGHAN

KEITH VAUGHAN

Works in Public Collections

UK Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Aberystwyth University, School of Art Gallery and Museum Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Lakeland Arts Trust Arts Council Collection Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, Oxford Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery Bowes Museum, Bernard Castle,...

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COMMENTS

wish that some of those values were taught today!

Vaughan’s comments on what should and should not be taught to art students is absolute common sense – wish that some of those values were taught today!

wish that some of those values were taught today!

In response to: Keith Vaughan the Teacher

Vaughan’s comments on what should and should not be taught to art students is absolute common sense – wish that some of those values were taught today!

By Maria Riley on 09/01/2016 12:00 am

Vaughan’s influence as a teacher

It’s good to know that Vaughan’s influence as a teacher can be seen in the work of several British painters: Mario Dubsky, Anthony Slinn and various

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Vaughan’s influence as a teacher

In response to: Keith Vaughan the Teacher

It’s good to know that Vaughan’s influence as a teacher can be seen in the work of several British painters: Mario Dubsky, Anthony Slinn and various others.

By Stephan Horrocks on 09/12/2016 12:00 am

I recall seeing such documentaries

I recall seeing such documentaries at school when I was young. No such thing any longer - unimaginable that kids today would be exposed to such wonderful

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I recall seeing such documentaries

In response to: KEITH VAUGHAN: FILM, TELEVISION & RADIO

I recall seeing such documentaries at school when I was young. No such thing any longer - unimaginable that kids today would be exposed to such wonderful thing in their education.

By Tom Dearing on 13/09/2016 12:00 am

He found the process highly beneficial

One forgets that many painters also make a living as teachers. Vaughan was very established by the 1960s and did not have to go on working with students.

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He found the process highly beneficial

In response to: Keith Vaughan the Teacher

One forgets that many painters also make a living as teachers. Vaughan was very established by the 1960s and did not have to go on working with students. However, it seems that he found the process highly beneficial.

By Eric Ormsby on 15/09/2016 12:00 am

life class at the Slade

Many of Vaughan’s pencil drawing of the male nude were, in fact, made in the life class at the Slade with his students.

life class at the Slade

In response to: Keith Vaughan the Teacher

Many of Vaughan’s pencil drawing of the male nude were, in fact, made in the life class at the Slade with his students.

By Steven Robertson on 09/05/2016 12:00 am

Hunting through the archive

If only there was a way of hunting through the archive at Granada Television! It would be amazing to locate that documentary for schools that Vaughan was

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Hunting through the archive

In response to: KEITH VAUGHAN: FILM, TELEVISION & RADIO

If only there was a way of hunting through the archive at Granada Television! It would be amazing to locate that documentary for schools that Vaughan was featured in. I would love to hear his voice. The same applies to the radio broadcast with him and Patrick Procktor. Perhaps one day these will turn up.

By Dillon MacBryde on 09/08/2016 12:00 am

British art

Thank you so much for including the documentary about British art. It was incredibly interesting. Fascinating to see Vaughan applying pigment to his canvas.

British art

In response to: KEITH VAUGHAN: FILM, TELEVISION & RADIO

Thank you so much for including the documentary about British art. It was incredibly interesting. Fascinating to see Vaughan applying pigment to his canvas.

By Vera Evans on 09/07/2016 12:00 am