Keith Vaughan (British, 1912-1977) Study for Crowd Assembling 54 x 43.7 cm. (21 1/4 x 17 1/4 in.)
Lot 4AR
Keith Vaughan
(British, 1912-1977)
Study for Crowd Assembling 54 x 43.7 cm. (21 1/4 x 17 1/4 in.)
£12,000 - 18,000
US$ 19,000 - 28,000

Lot Details
Keith Vaughan (British, 1912-1977)
Study for Crowd Assembling
signed and dated 'Keith Vaughan/66' (lower right)
gouache and ink
54 x 43.7 cm. (21 1/4 x 17 1/4 in.)

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    With The Redfern Gallery, London, where acquired by
    The Arthur Andersen & Co. Art Collection, 1991
    Private Collection, U.K.

    Between 1952 and 1976 Vaughan produced nine major paintings which he called 'Assemblies of Figures'. Over the course of 1967/68 he also painted two large canvases on the theme of an assembling crowd; this gouache may well be a preparation study or trial run for those compositions. The coming together of an anonymous crowd was a central theme in his work. Vaughan was interested in the manner in which separate human forms jostled against, overlapped and interpenetrated one another once they coalesced into a gathering or an assembly:

    No longer incorporated in the church or any codified system of belief, the Assemblies are deprived of literary significance or illustrative meaning. The participants have not assembled for any particular purpose such as a virgin birth, martyrdom, or inauguration of a new power station. In so far as their activity is aimless and their assembly pointless they might be said to symbolize an age of doubt against an age of faith. But that is not the point. Although the elements are recognisably human their meaning is plastic. They attempt a summary and condensed statement of the relationship between things, expressed through a morphology common to all organic and inorganic matter (Keith Vaughan, Painter's Progress from Studio, August 1958, p.53).

    I would like to be able to paint a crowd – that abstract entity referred to by the sociologists as the masses. An amorphous compressed lump of impermanent shape reacting as a mass to environmentally stimuli yet composed of isolated human egos retaining their own separate incommunicable identities. In the past artists have usually dealt with the problem of crowds by turning them into assemblies. Assemblies are orderly rhythmic groups of individuals which act and are acted upon by mutual consent. The behaviour of an assembly is at least compatible with that of any member composing it and often surpasses him in achievement. The behaviour of a crowd follows its own laws and generates its own energy. It is inferior, humanly speaking, to any one member composing it and usually acts contrary to his interests, and can even accomplish his destruction (Keith Vaughan, Journals & Drawings p.198, Alan Ross, London 1966).

    There are fewer single figures, but crowds making a single, corporate form – crowds, masses, unidentifiable crowds. Before I made assemblies of figures, people making studied gestures to each other. Or single melancholic figures. Now I am trying to combine the two things. How do I reconcile this with the idea of isolation? They're not happy masses, they're in a panic state of conflict...I'm not concerned with a classical Poussinesque movement, or a mass in happy association, but a crowd like an Oxford Street mass, jolting, jostling and pushing, when every contour has an abrasive action on every other contour. (Keith Vaughan, Studio International, November, 1964 p.165).

    We are grateful to Anthony Hepworth for his assistance in cataloguing this lot and to Gerard Hastings, author of Keith Vaughan: The Photographs (Pagham Press, 2013), for compiling the catalogue entry.
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