“Abstract landscapes” circa 1950
Graphite on paper – A pair
Each 5 x 6 inches
Anthony Hepburn Gallery, UK.
Private collection, U.K.,
Keith Vaughan (1912-77) was a major figure in post-war British art who is known for his searching portraits of the male nude and his association with the Neo-Romantic painters.
Vaughan painted frequently; dream-like landscapes populated by tense, lithe figures. The curves and angles of their bodies are exaggerated, taking inspiration from the ballet, which Vaughan greatly admired. He corresponded with Graham Sutherland, and this influence can be seen in Vaughan’s treatment of line and colour. Vaughan’s subject was frequently a disguised way of treating his own sexuality, the body mirrored in the land; as Ian Massey has written: “landscape acted as a metaphor both for the physical body and its absence”.
In the 1950s, Vaughan painted several works that used the medium of myth to convey personal feelings and experiences, for example ‘Theseus and the Minotaure’ (1950), which was shown as part of the Festival of Britain, for the Arts Council’s Sixty Paintings for ‘51. The ’50s also saw Vaughan exhibit frequently in London, at The Lefebvre Gallery (1950, 1951), The Redfern Gallery (1952), and The Leicester Galleries (from 1953). He also showed in New York, at Duralcher Bros (from 1952). He was included in Patrick Heron’s Space in Colour in 1953, and began to be bought by institutions such as the Tate. From the mid ‘50s he made visits to St Ives with Patrick Procktor and Bryan Robertson, travelling to see Patrick Heron and producing paintings of the Cornish countryside.
This fine pair of drawings are typical of the muted abstractions of male nudes, landscapes, and architecture for which he became famous. His early Neo-Romantic paintings of male bathers and boys in semi-abstracted landscapes, his post-war illustrations of young men immersed in elegiac contemplation of the landscape, and his later gouaches and landscapes epitomise his oeuvre.