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Rarely seen works by Keith Vaughan on show at National Museum Cardiff

A new exhibition -Keith Vaughan: Figure and Ground - Drawings, Prints and Photographs, 1935-1962 - which is on tour from the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, will open at National Museum Cardiff tomorrow (Saturday, 13 July 2013).

The exhibition displays prints, drawings and photographs by Keith Vaughan (1912-1977), one of the most celebrated British artists of his generation. A friend of Graham Sutherland in the 1940s, he was associated with the rising Neo-Romantic movement along with artists such as John Minton and John Craxton. Vaughan became, with Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, a leader of the new figure-based painting practice in Britain in the 1950s and ’60s.


Figure and Ground focuses on his favourite theme – the male figure in a landscape setting. It presents a fresh and original view of this self-taught artist. It includes works which have never been featured in an exhibition before, selected from items held in the School of Art collection at Aberystwyth University. The School of Art at Aberystwyth University is home to an important collection of works of art and design, chiefly works on paper and ceramics. The collection contains nearly 500 separate items relating to Keith Vaughan.


On show at National Museum Cardiff will be a significant group of Keith Vaughan’s own photographs. Photography was amongst Vaughan’s first enthusiasms as a young man working as a commercial artist at the advertising agency, Lintas (1931-39). The Aberystwyth University collection contains key examples of his photographic work including the prints probably assembled by the artist in memory of his brother Richard (Dick) who was killed in action in 1940. Vaughan named it Dick’s Book of Photos. The photographs of the 1930s anticipate Vaughan’s later development as a painter, particularly in his most frequently used subject, ‘the assembly of figures’.


The exhibition also includes the majority of Vaughan’s work as a printmaker, as well as part of a portfolio of drawings never exhibited before, Vaughan’s personal copies of his book cover designs and drawings for book illustration.


Colin Cruise, Research Lecturer at Aberystwyth University is the exhibition curator. He said: 


“These little-known works provide a fresh insight into Vaughan’s imagination and his working methods. They will reveal new and exciting aspects of Vaughan’s work to visitors to the National Museum. It is a pleasure to be working closely with the curators at the National Museum in Cardiff and to know that the Aberystwyth Vaughan archive will have a wider audience in Wales during the run of the show.”


A fully illustrated book also accompanies the exhibition. Published by Sansom & Co, it contains three essays based on new research on Vaughan and his times and has been supported by The Derek Williams Trust, The Hargreaves and Ball Trust and Aberystwyth University.


The exhibition will be on show at the Museum until 24 November 2013. Entry to National Museum Cardiff is free thanks to the support of the Welsh Government.


Amgueddfa Cymru operates seven national museums across Wales. These are National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

Date: 12 July 2013
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