Dark Movement 1961
oil on board
91 x 121.5cm (35 13/16 x 47 13/16in).
framed: 100 x 130 cm
in a walnut tray frame
signed, titled and dated 'DARK MOVEMENT/by/TREVOR BELL 1961 (on board verso)
Waddington Galleries, London 1962;
P.W.S. Andrews, Nuffield College, Oxford;
David Thomson Collection;
Waddington Galleries, London 1962
Southampton Art Gallery, December 1962
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As Chris Stephens notes on his entry on Trevor Bell at the Tate, the title of this work refers to the climatic conditions that were part of its inspiration - the forces of the weather, of clouds passing across the high landscape of the Yorkshire Dales and Fells, are evoked by a group of interlocking forms, which seem to stretch out from the centre of the composition towards the edges. Finished in 1961 the "Dark Movement" is painted shortly after his arrival in Leeds and just before "Forces 1962" - that was recently acquired by the Tate Gallery.
Both works were made in the studio in Leeds provided by the University as part of Bell’s Gregory Fellowship. The energetic application of thick, fluid paint is typical of Bell’s work of this period and reflects the influence in Cornwall of Peter Lanyon (1918–1964). The interrelationship of different areas of paint equally indicates his debt to Roger Hilton (1911–1975), in whose work a sense of tension between interlocking and closely proximate forms was a common feature. Yet Bell's style in at this time is very much a distinct voice and these Leeds period works stand apart as some of his very best paintings - arguably the accomplished moment in his career.
Trevor Bell was born in Leeds and studied at the College of Art from 1947 - 1952. After a period as a teacher at Harrogate College of Art, and on the advice of the artist Terry Frost, in 1955 Bell and his wife moved to St Ives and started to make his reputation as a leading member of the middle generation of St Ives artists, along with his peers Patrick Heron, Anthony Benjamin, Bryan Wynter and Terry Frost. When Anthony Benjamin returned from Paris to St. Ives in 1959 he shared a studio with Trevor Bell on Porthmeor Beach, next to the visiting Francis Bacon who has borrowed Redgrave’s studio though the winter of 1959-60.
Bell exhibited with the Penwith Society of Arts from 1956 and had his first solo exhibition at Waddington Galleries in1958. In 1959, he won the 'Paris Biennale International Painting' award and after short periods in Italy, Bell took up a Gregory Fellowship at Leeds University in 1960. In Leeds, Bell continued a mode of painting inspired by landscape, nature and the elemental forces of weather that he had developed in Cornwall.
After his exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London in 1973, Bell went onto became Professor for Master (Graduate) Painting at the Florida State University, staying there for over 20 years before returning to Cornwall in the 1990s from the United States.
This work was previously in the collection of the prominent collector of St Ives Modernism David Thomson.
Trevor Bell is represented in the first major survey of St Ives Modernism held in Europe - Living the Landscape - at the Museum Belvedere in The Netherlands 28th May - 25 September 2022, alongside major works by Peter Lanyon, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicolson, Roger Hilton, Sandra Blow, Patrick Heron and others.
Trevor Bell at Porthmeor Studios 1958