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Artists Vanessa Bell
Vanessa Bell Photo

Vanessa Bell

English Painter

Movements and Styles: The Bloomsbury Group Artists, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism

Born: May 30, 1879 - London, United Kingdom

Died: April 7, 1961 - Firle, United Kington

Vanessa Bell Timeline

Quotes

"It is clearly possible to use imitation or representation in producing a great work of art, but it can't be the object of a great artist to tell you the facts at the cost of telling you what he feels about them."
Vanessa Bell
"Life apart from human beings was almost completely visual for me."
Vanessa Bell
"One discovered that one was, after all, in love with nature."
Vanessa Bell
"It seems to me always the visual relationship that is important in painting. There is a language simple of form and color that can be as moving as any other and that seems to affect one quite as much as the greatest poetry of words. Of course, the form and color nearly always do represent life and I suppose any allusions may creep in."
Vanessa Bell
"I am absolutely indifferent to anything the world may say about me, my husband and my children. The only people whose opinion can affect one, the working classes luckily have the sense for the most part to realize that they can know nothing of one's private life and do not allow their speculations about what one does to interfere with their judgement as to what one is. The middle and upper classes are not so sensible."
Vanessa Bell

"I believe all painting is worthwhile so long as one honestly expresses one's own ideas."

Vanessa Bell Signature

Synopsis

Vanessa Bell defied the Victorian strictures of her upbringing to forge a life filled with creativity, collaboration, and sexual liberation. A vital founder of the Bloomsbury Group, Bell, along with her novelist sister Virginia Woolf, the critic Roger Fry, and the artist Duncan Grant among others, embraced the avant-garde styles of continental Europe to advance modern art and to break down the barriers between fine and applied arts. Bucking traditional English mores, Bell created a distinctly modern oeuvre that ranged over still lifes, landscapes, interiors, and abstract paintings as well as decorative arts such as textiles, pottery, and furniture. While Bell embraced Fauvist and Cubist styles, making her paintings some of the most radical Britain had yet seen, her insistence on drawing inspiration from her domestic life led later historians and critics to downplay her importance in the development of modern art, an assessment that is now rapidly changing.

Key Ideas

Bell synthesized the techniques and explorations of the Post-Impressionist painters, such as Cézanne, Matisse, and Gauguin, to create modern compositions with bold forms and colors. She simplified human figures to their constituent shapes, flattened pictorial space, and used saturated colors to create patterns of objects and shapes, creating paintings that were some of the most radical in Britain at the time.
The close group of family and friends that Bell cultivated and the untraditional domestic sphere she fostered provided inspiration and subject matter throughout her painting career. In this space abstract textiles, hand fashioned pottery, abstract paintings, and portraits of her loved ones mingled to create a new, strikingly modern way of living.
While innovative in the development of abstract painting, Bell wandered among various types of subject matter and blurred the boundaries between fine and decorative arts. While perhaps not a strict modernist, her attitude spoke to an anti-authoritarian stance that defied the constraints and limitations of what was expected of a modern painter.

Biography

Vanessa Bell Photo

Childhood and Education

The complicated family dynamic into which Vanessa Stephen was born would foreshadow the complex relationships she would have throughout her life. The eldest child born to author Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Duckworth, her three siblings included one sister who would become the famed author Virginia Woolf. She also had a half-sister (her mother's from her first marriage) and two half-brothers (her father's sons), who Bell accused many years later of molesting her.

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Vanessa Bell Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Vanessa Bell
Interactive chart with Vanessa Bell's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Claude MonetClaude Monet
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Georges SeuratGeorges Seurat

Personal Contacts

Clive BellClive Bell
Roger FryRoger Fry
Duncan GrantDuncan Grant
Gertrude SteinGertrude Stein
Virginia WoolfVirginia Woolf

Movements

Abstract ArtAbstract Art
ImpressionismImpressionism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism

Influences on Artist
Vanessa Bell
Vanessa Bell
Years Worked: 1904 - 1961
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Frederick Etchells
Jessie Etchells
Nina Hamnett
David HockneyDavid Hockney
Walter SickertWalter Sickert

Personal Contacts

Clive BellClive Bell
Roger FryRoger Fry
Gertrude SteinGertrude Stein
Lytton Strachey
Virginia WoolfVirginia Woolf

Movements

Abstract ArtAbstract Art
ImpressionismImpressionism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism

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Content compiled and written by Jessica DiPalma

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Jessica DiPalma
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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