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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's 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. Paintings from this time include The Wall at Ashton Gifford, now owned by the 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 more abstract with time.
Vaughan worked as an art teacher at the Camberwell College of Arts, the Central School of Art and later at the Slade School of Art*.
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, much of what is known about him is 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 is celebrated this year with an exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, 'Keith Vaughan: Romanticism to Abstraction' (10 March to 10 June 2012).
1. Keith Vaughan, lot 41, Sotheby's, November 11, 2009
• Keith Vaughan. Journals & Drawings, 1966, published in London by Alan Ross, 219 pages.
• Keith Vaughan: Journals 1939-1977, ed Alan Ross, 1989, published in London by John Murray, 217 pages, ISBN 0-7195-4732-6.
• Keith Vaughan, His Life and Work, Malcolm Yorke, 1990, published in London by Constable, 288 pages, ISBN 0-09-469780-9 (Hardback)
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