"Modern art aims not to create illusions of reality but to animate surfaces without destroying them ... Art went down the hill from the death of Raphael to the birth of Cézanne ... Nature is alright as far as she goes. It is the artist's task to go further ... Light and shade are evanescent. Form is eternal. It is therefore significant form that must be looked for in a work of art".
George Bell, 1939
George Bell is widely regarded as the most influential force in the development of the modern movement in Melbourne during the 1930s. With Arnold Shore, he established the Bell-Shore school in 1932, where they taught the principles and practice of modern art. Bell had been prompted by developments in Europe to question his approach to painting and during an extended visit there in 1934-35 he studied drawing with Iain McNab in London, associated with artists in the New English Art Club and became interested in the writings and theories of Clive Bell and Roger Fry, English champions of Cézanne and Post-Impressionism.
He reconstructed his approach to both his own work and to his teaching according to these new principles and was an important influence on many artists including Russell Drysdale, Sali Herman and other subsequently well-known and distinguished painters.
Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2001
oil on cardboard on wood
43.1 x 55.5 cm board; 57.9 x 70.6 x 4.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. corner, pencil "George Bell ´37".
Not on display
© Reproduced with permission
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Celebrity Choice - Sam Neill, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 Jan 1987–08 Feb 1987
Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Jul 1994–25 Sep 1994
Referenced in 4 publications
Renée Free, Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Sydney, 1994.
Barry Pearce, Art and Australia, 'Recent Australian acquisitions with notes on Charles Conder's Algerian convalescence', pg. 57-62, Sydney, Spring 1984, 62 (colour illus.).
Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 24.
Donald Richardson, Art & Design in Australia, South Yarra, 1995, 15, 60, 80, 83, 137, 140, 145, 163, 243.. PS Worksheet 248