Artwork of the Month: Acrobats III by Keith Vaughan

16 June 2021
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Every month we highlight an artwork from our hospital art collection


We are passionate that our art collection is representative of our diverse community. To mark Pride Month we are highlighting an artwork from our collection by Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) a celebrated British artist from the LGBTQ+ community.

Keith Vaughan was born in 1912 in Selsey Bill, West Sussex. He showed a great talent for drawing when he was young and began his creative career as a trainee in the art department of an advertising agency. In 1939 he left his job as a commercial artist to concentrate on painting full time.

At the outbreak of World War II he registered as a conscientious objector, volunteering for hospital duties with the R.A.F and as a German interpreter. It was at this time that he began keeping a regular journal. His journals, now in the Tate Collection, give a remarkably frank and often humorous account of his personal, sexual, emotional and creative life - and how his homosexuality and depression informed his artistic practice.

During the war he became friends with painters John Minton and Graham Sutherland, and their influence can be seen in his use of line and limited colour. Dream-like landscapes and the male nude dominate many of his paintings during this post-war period.

The artwork in our collection, titled Acrobats III was created in 1966, and is typical of Keith Vaughan’s later works, which are often more abstract and expressive. It is painted with gouache (a type of opaque watercolour paint) on paper, a medium he regularly returned to and perhaps felt more familiar with given his early commercial training.

You can discover more of Keith Vaughan’s work on the Art UK website, the online home for every public art collection in the UK.

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Acrobats III by Keith Vaughan, Gouache on paper, 1966, 49.5 (h) x 39 (w) cm

This is just one of over 800 works of art that make up our hospital art collection. The artworks on public display around the hospital create spaces that are engaging, welcoming and compassionate.

Arts St George’s is the arts programme for St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, managed by St George’s Hospital Charity.

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