In 1952 Vaughan visited the Nicolas de Staël exhibition at the Matthiesen Gallery in Bond Street. He realized that direct representationalism was stifling his development and began to evolve a synthesis between observation and abstraction. His pictures now became composed of formalized passages of pigment fashioned into patches, blocks and slabs of colour. This enabled him to evoke the sensation of landscape and recreate the experience of it, rather than merely depict its appearance.
At the beginning of 1959 Vaughan travelled to Iowa State University in America to work there as painter in residence. That spring he hired a car and explored the surrounding landscape, always on the look-out for new subjects. On these field-trips he took with him pencils and sketchbooks making visual notations as he went. The resulting drawings were worked up later into paintings when he returned to his studio. He headed south to Missouri and visited various places including Keokuk, Alexandra, Palmyra and Hannibal on the banks of the Mississippi.
Vaughan was particularly attracted to agricultural landscapes, farms with formal, plotted fields and rolling meadowlands dotted with barns or punctuated by repeated fence-posts. He felt able to translate these formalised, geometric shapes into pictorial statements and incorporate them into the compositions of his paintings. In 1959 he produced many canvases depicting such rural subjects, (see also Farm at Cedar Rapids and Iowa Farm I & II).
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