Showing posts from May, 2017

On her own terms

I sit and write this evening after an wonderfully exhilarating visit to the Vanessa Bell retrospective at Dulwich Picture Gallery.  There were over 100 oil paintings, book cover designs, fabric and rug designs, as well as photographs ranging from the early 1900s until just before her death in 1961.  The exhibition was split into themes, such as still life, portraits, and showed just how wide ranging and hugely interesting her work is.

Vanessa Bell is often subsumed as an artist into the whole Bloomsbury group, where she can feel like a shadowy figure behind Duncan Grant, rather than an equally interesting and important artist of that time.  She didn't stand still, she was influenced by the Post Impressionists and by Matisse in her early years, but she developed her own styles over time, painting subjects she was interested in, decorating her homes as she wanted, and designing fabrics that still look modern a hundred years after she designed them.

At her best she was bold and expe…