Bell, Vanessa (1879–1961) By Brockington, Grace
Vanessa Bell was a painter and decorative artist, and an innovator in interior design, who became central to the development of modernism in Britain in the early 20th century. As a member of the Bloomsbury Group, she was a key figure in the ground-breaking Omega Workshops, set up by the artist and critic Roger Fry in 1913. She worked across several media, including painting, print-making, photography and textiles; and she designed illustrations and dusk-jackets for the Hogarth Press, notably for books published by her sister, the writer Virginia Woolf. Her work was at its most radical between 1910 and 1920, when she was among the first artists in Britain to respond to “post-impressionism,” a term coined by Fry to describe the new art from Europe. Her experimental art explored the limits of representation through a variety of modernist techniques, including bold use of color, emphatic outlines, flattened surfaces, and papier collé, while her subjects were often intimate and domestic.