Clive Bell

From Academic Kids

Arthur Clive Howard Bell (1881-1964) was an English critic, associated with the Bloomsbury group.

Clive Bell was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and came to London, where he met and married the artist, Vanessa Stephen (sister of Virginia Woolf) in 1907. By World War I their marriage was over, although they never officially separated: not only did they keep visiting each other regularly, they also kept spending holidays together, paid "family" visits to Clive's parents, and Clive lived for long stretches of time at Charleston with Vanessa, Duncan Grant and their (= Clive's, Vanessa's and Duncan's) three children.

Clive and Vanessa had two sons (Julian and Quentin), who both became writers, Julian dying in the Spanish Civil War in 1937.

Angelica Garnett wore Clive's last name until she married, but was in fact Duncan's daughter, which she learnt from her mother shortly after Julian's death.

Key ideas

Bell was one of the founders of the formalist theory of art. In his work Significant Form in Art he claimed that representation and emotion in themselves do not contribute to the aesthetic experience of a painting. Instead it is the significant form within the painting which determines its artistic content. He defines Significant Form for painting as "relations and combinations of lines and colours" and considered it to be common to all works of visual art. He went on to use significant form as a definition of all art. His theory relies on treating "aesthetic experience" as an emotion distinct from other emotions, and one that is triggered by significant form - the common quality of any work of art.

Works

  • Significant Form in Art (1914)
  • Since CÚzanne (1922)
  • Civilization (1928)
  • Proust (1929)
  • An Account of French Painting (1931)
  • Old Friends (1956)

See also

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