Cecil Bell Biography

Cecil Bell




Cecil Crosley "Spike" Bell was born in Seattle, WA on July 15, 1906. In 1925 he took a job at Tacoma Engraving and in 1928 studied printmaking at the Chicago Art Institute in the fall semester. After marrying Agatha Lewis in 1929 the newlyweds moved to New York City in 1930, where Bell studied at the Art Students League with John Sloan, Charles Locke, Will Barnet, and Harry Wickey.

In 1931 he began to work as a commercial artist at Fox Films, while continuing to study at the ASL and privately with John Sloan. He continued as a freelance illustrator in the 30’s and sold a painting to the Whitney Museum in 1936. He continued his education, studying lithography with Harry Sternberg and printmaking with Will Barnet at the ASL. In 1942 he moved to Staten Island, N.Y. Bell exhibited in New York in the 40’s and in the 50’s traveled to Europe.

Bell's work focused primarily on American city scenes and genres, often portraying ordinary people in everyday situations illuminated in rich hues. Figurative compositions and landscapes in rural Vermont and beachside New Jersey also frequented his oeuvre.

From 1935 to his retirement in 1968 he continued to work as a freelance illustrator for the Donut Corporation. He suffered serious medical problems and surgeries in 1956-57 but recovered and spent 6 weeks in 1961 in Mexico, where he did his only work executed outside the U.S. Cecil Bell died in Rutland, Vermont on July 26, 1970.

Bell exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago; the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Moder Art, NY; and the Tacoma Art Museum, Washington. His work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Delaware Art Museum; and the Barry Art Museum, Norfolk, Virginia.