GUMBALL XV, color Giclee on thick paper, estate signed, from the numbered edition 200,
image 30 x 20
According to a Guggeheim Foundation biography, Bell never received any formal training in his art. He claimed inspiration from Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud. He also worked in the San Francisco studio of Donald Timothy Flores, where painted mostly small-scale landscapes and still lifes. He was given the Society of Western Artists Award in 1968. After moving to New York, Bell created his paintings by photographing a subject in still life. With a subject matter primarily of vintage toys, pinball machines, gumball machines, and dolls and action figures (the latter frequently arranged in classical poses), Bell sought to bring pictorial majesty and wonder to the mundane. Bell's work, created in his New York loft studio on West Broadway, is noted not only for the glass-like surface of his works, done largely in oil, but also for their significant scale. In 1995 he was included in the exhibition 'American Masters', curated by Michael McKenzie (artist) for the Museu d'Arte Moderne in São Paulo, along with Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol, two artists Bell admired. For the exhibit, Bell created a silkscreen print titled "The Viking" largely regarded as a masterpiece of the medium which required 51 plates, 11 proofings and 10 months to produce. Bell's works are housed in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan, among others.