Leland Bell
American, 1922-1991

Before the self-taught Leland Bell met and befriended the modernist painter Jean Hélion in 1950, his works were largely aligned with Abstract Expressionism; afterwards, Bell began to produce figurative paintings, with a focus on depictions of the human body. In describing his aspirations, Bell said, “I would love to have a structure as powerful and as human and as deeply probing as [Piet] Mondrian’s, but I also want to invent something that will accommodate the appearance of things.” Bell drew influence from a wide range of modernists, not only Helion and Mondrian but also Alberto Giacometti, as well as André Derain and the Fauvists. His frequent use of a dark black line to contour his subjects has been compared to Henri Matisse’s tendency for the same.

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