Arthur Clive Howard Bell (September 16, 1881 – September 18, 1964) was an English critic, associated with the Bloomsbury group.
Clive Bell was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and came to London, where he met and married the artist, Vanessa Stephen (sister of Virginia Woolf) in 1907.
By World War I their marriage was over. Vanessa had begun a lifelong relationship with Duncan Grant and Clive had a number of liaisons with other women such as Mary Hutchinson. However, Clive and Vanessa never officially separated or divorced: not only did they keep visiting each other regularly, they also sometimes spent holidays together and paid "family" visits to Clive's parents. Clive lived in London but often spent long stretches of time at the idyllic farmhouse of Charleston, where Vanessa lived with Duncan and their (= Clive's, Vanessa's and Duncan's) three children. He fully supported her wish to have a child by Duncan and allowed this daughter to bear his last name.
Clive and Vanessa had two sons (Julian and Quentin), who both became writers. Julian fought and died in the Spanish Civil War in 1937.
Vanessa's daughter by Duncan, Angelica Garnett, was raised as Clive's daughter until she married. She was informed, by her mother Vanessa, just prior to her marriage and shortly after her brother Julian's death that in fact Duncan Grant was her biological father. This deception forms the central message of her memoir, Deceived with Kindness.
Bell was one of the founders of the formalist theory of art. In his work Art he claimed that representation and emotion in themselves do not contribute to the aesthetic experience of a painting. Instead it is the significant form within the painting which determines its artistic content.
He defines Significant Form for painting as "relations and combinations of lines and colours" and considered it to be common to all works of visual art. He went on to use significant form as a definition of all art. His theory relies on treating "aesthetic experience" as an emotion distinct from other emotions, and one that is triggered by significant form - the common quality of any work of art.