Keith Vaughan (British, 1912-1977) Three Figures II 48.5 x 40.2 cm. (19 1/8 x 15 7/8 in.) (Executed circa 1973-75)

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Lot 3AR
Keith Vaughan
(British, 1912-1977)
Three Figures II 48.5 x 40.2 cm. (19 1/8 x 15 7/8 in.)

Sold for £ 12,500 (US$ 15,736) inc. premium
Keith Vaughan (British, 1912-1977)
Three Figures II
gouache, ink and oil pastel
48.5 x 40.2 cm. (19 1/8 x 15 7/8 in.)
Executed circa 1973-75

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    William Desmond Esq.
    With Austin Desmond Fine Art, London, 14 March 1987, where purchased by the present owner
    Private Collection, U.K.

    Exhibited
    London, New Grafton Gallery, Keith Vaughan: Drawings & Prints, 2-26 October 1985, cat.no.27

    Keith Vaughan was amongst Britain's finest gouache painters during the post-war period and the present work demonstrates both his expressive range and his complex technical vocabulary.

    Vaughan evolved a procedure that entailed making a series of automatic, random marks on the paper. These unconscious smudges and splashes might be incorporated into the structural design of the composition or become obliterated as the painting evolved; either way they kick-started the painting process for him. It was an intuitive ritual that started "as usual, with no more than a process. The making of a series of wet marks across the white board in a sequence of colours (blue black I fancy at the moment) and see where it leads." (Keith Vaughan, Journal: July 2, 1972).

    Vaughan then used black Indian ink to augment the arbitrary arrangement of emerging forms, letting the easy flow of his brush and his instinctive pictorial handwriting guide his gestures until more formal configurations began to emerge. Structuring the composition was vital. In an unpublished studio notebook, dating from 1958, he recorded the progress of his paintings from the initial marks to the final touches. One note reads: "Necessity for compositional structure to run right through to the edges – disregarding identity of forms...not enough simply to balance shapes within the area. This is a subjectively obvious fact of which I have only just become conscious in words....the continuing lines are never obvious and are constantly interrupted by counter rhythms and thrust back and forth in space."

    The pictorial scaffolding gradually transformed itself into contours of interlocking heads, shoulders and limbs of an assembly of figures or outlines of distant vegetation and tilted horizons. Work would advance mark against mark as fresh applications of gouache were spread over the picture plane in increasingly complex sequences; each chromatic decision, brush track or chance gesture was governed by what had previously been laid down. During the process frequent adjustments had to be made since additional applications were needed to complement existing textures, tones and hues until eventually the gouache was completed." (Philip Vann and Gerard Hastings, Keith Vaughan, Lund Humphries, 2012, pp.169-170).

    We are grateful to Gerard Hastings for compiling this catalogue entry. His book, Awkward Artefacts: The 'Erotic Fantasies' of Keith Vaughan is published by Pagham Press in association with The Keith Vaughan Society.
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