Massey, Ian (2013) Art, Biography, Sexuality: Patrick Procktor and Keith Vaughan. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This critical review forms a reflection on the research published within the following publications:
Patrick Procktor: Art and Life (Unicorn Press, 2010)
Keith Vaughan: The Mature Oils 1946-1977, (Sansom & Co., 2012)

The research is on two artists, Patrick Procktor (1936-2003), and Keith Vaughan (1912-1977). The monograph on Procktor – previously one of the least documented of the generation of artists who came to prominence in London in the Sixties – positions him in a history of art from which he had been notably absent. The research on Vaughan asserts a new reading of his work, one that is both deeper and more nuanced in its analysis of the ways in which personal experience and sexuality are encoded autobiographically within his work. Crucially, in both artists biography and work are symbiotically linked; the research therefore examines the links between life and art.

Revisionary in intent, the work examines trajectories of experience of gay British (or rather, English) artists in the twentieth century, artists who sought to express themselves and forge careers within the constraints of a heteronormative society, albeit one in which attitudes to sexuality were undergoing change. As gay men, both were constrained by the social mores of their times, and each used painting as a means to affirm personal and sexual identities. A key research interest is in the ways in which sexuality and persona are reflected in critical responses to the artist’s work: in Vaughan, Procktor and other gay male artists of the period. The writing on both Procktor and Vaughan examines the relationship between their personal and professional/artistic lives, framed within a broader socio-political and art historical context. It asserts the place of biography as a means to understand and form new readings of the work. The work adds substantially to the literature and wider discourse on post-war British painting and social history.

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