A 'Lavender Talent' or 'The Most Important Woman Painter in Europe'? Reassessing Vanessa Bell

Grace Brockington*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Vanessa Bell presents a problem for the history of art in Britain. As a member of the Bloomsbury group she is famous, yet her art itself is relatively little known, and there is no consensus as to whether it can be taken seriously. This essay examines the obstacles to a reassessment of her work and their implications for the wider field of British art studies. Challenging the worst stereotype of Bell as silent, apolitical and derivative, it proposes new approaches to her art through the idea of conversation, which recurs in her painting and letters. Through detailed analysis of images, primary texts and the long-term critical debate, it draws attention to the complexities of Bell's response to modernist art and theory, and to the critical, cosmopolitan nature of her practice.

Translated title of the contributionVanessa Bell in Europe
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-53
Number of pages26
JournalArt History
Volume36
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jan 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

Keywords

  • Bell
  • European
  • conversation

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