Trevor Bell

The post-war modern artist Trevor Bell created vibrant, abstract paintings and drawings that helped to define St. Ives as a centre of British modern art. Noted for his irregular shaped canvases, inspirations from his environment are conveyed in both vivid colour palettes as well as lighter tones, making his portfolio a diverse scope of artwork. Initially in his formative years, the artist painted industrial landscapes far removed from the creations realised towards the latter half of his life. As well as being a key artist in the sphere of British abstractum, Bell was recognised as a charismatic teacher, most notably in the States.

Trevor Bell was born in Leeds in 1930, where he began his career as a contemporary artist, first attending the Leeds College of Art between 1947 and 1952. Eventually the artists made the move to St Ives in Cornwall, a place he adored that would influence the work he created in the rest of his lifetime, especially as it was an epicentre for British abstract art at the time. Artists such as Patrick Heron, Barbara Hepworth and Terry Frost are some of the few that mentored Bell as he progressed. Here he would also establish himself as a significant British artist on the world stage, going on to win a multitude of awards. Bell’s first successful one-man exhibition was in 1958 at the Waddington Galleries in London, eventuating in the Paris Biennale International Painting Prize and an Italian Government Scholarship in 1959. The show sold out immediately, with Patrick Heron, an established post-war modern artist that is also displayed at Farhi Fine Art, describing Trevor Bell as: ‘the best non-figurative painter under thirty’.

In 1960, Trevor Bell returned to Leeds after receiving the Gregory Fellowship in Painting at the city’s University. During this period of his life, Bell developed the shaped canvases that differentiated himself from other abstract artists in his generation. By 1970, Bell decided to travel around the United Kingdom following his time back in Leeds, gallivanting through Scotland, Ireland, and England, before holding another successful one-man exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. It was after this the artist started his time at several educational institutions, painting alongside teaching, such as at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where he was a Professor for Master Painting. More of his work was exhibited throughout the United States, such as the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC. He spent the next 20 years developing his style in a warehouse sized studio, incorporating intense colour that reflected the landscapes around him.

Fourteen of Trevor Bell’s artworks were acquired by the Tate Modern in 2011 for their permanent collection, following a major solo exhibition at the Tate St. Ives in 2004, as well as his inclusion in many other Tate galleries in the late 20th Century. Many of his works have also been bought for a selection of private collections, including the British Council, Boca Raton, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Bell is also a two-time recipient of multiple fellowships both in the UK and abroad, such as from the Fine Arts Council of Florida and the University College Falmouth.

The abstract artist sadly passed away in November 2017, at the age of 87, however his legacy has been forged throughout the art world, with Trevor Bell’s work continuing to increase in price in auction houses worldwide, with the highest record being a painting sold in 2021 for $60,000. His paintings are a wonderful addition to any collection, adding an interesting pop of vividity to the walls of a home.

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MEDIUM Yearly lots sold Sell-through rate Sale price Price over estimate
Painting 3 75% £15k 51%
Work on Paper 2 87.5% £6k 93%


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