A Finding Aid to the Michael Bell Papers, 1942-1988, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.bellmich
Creators:
Bell, Michael S., 1946-
Dates:
1942-1988
Languages:
English
,
English
,
English
,
French
,
Spanish; Castilian
.
Physical Description:
4.4 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of Michael Bell measure 4.4 linear feet and date from 1942 to 1988. The papers document his career as an art curator and administrator, artist, and research on Surrealism through correspondence with artists; lecture notes, manuscripts, and other writings; documents from his time on the Registrar Committee for the American Association of Museums, Surrealist artist files, and administrative files; materials relating to exhibitions he participated in such as the "100 Vows of the Sun" exhibition; exhibition catalogs, pulbished manuscripts, and other printed material; and photographs of works by Surrealist artists.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of Michael Bell measure 4.4 linear feet and date from 1942 to 1988. The papers document his career as an art curator and administrator, artist, and research on Surrealism through correspondence with artists; lecture notes, manuscripts, and other writings; documents from his time on the Registrar Committee for the American Association of Museums, Surrealist artist files, and administrative files; materials relating to exhibitions he participated in such as the "100 Vows of the Sun" exhibition; exhibition catalogs, pulbished manuscripts, and other printed material; and photographs of works by Surrealist artists.
Correspondence is primarily with colleagues concerning grant proposals, plans for seminars, activities of the American Surrealist Initiative, and the American Association of Museum Registrars' Committee, 1977-1979.
Writings consist of notes, lectures, and manuscripts of articles on Surrealist art. Also included is a floppy diskette containing Bell's writings.
Administrative materials consist of material from Bell's time as a member of the American Association of Museum Registrars' Committee. Materials include notes, vocabularies, and formats for condition reports; condition report task force meeting notes, annual meeting notes, and Western region meetings. Other material includes Surrealist artists files compiled by Bell. These files appear to have been compiled for Bell's own research into Surrealist art, but some appear to be related to grants that artists applied for. Artist files consist of resumes, photographs, and printed material.
Exhibition material consists of correspondence, notes, printed material, and some administrative material related to exhibitions that Bell participated. Some of the exhibition include: "Art Exposition 1985," "Human form, Prismatic Color," and "100 Vows of the Sun: Surrealist Sculpture, Painting, and Poetry." The "100 Vows of the Sun" exhibition also includes one audio cassette and one video cassette of related material.
Printed material includes photocopies of articles on Surrealist art collected by Bell for his research, photocopies of articles annoted by Bell, exhibition announcements, exhibition catalogs, and advertisements featuring Surrealist art.
Photographic material is primarily photographs compiled by Bell of Surrealist art arranged alphabetically by artist. There is one large group photograph of Bell and attendees at the opening reception for the "100 Vows of the Sun" exhibition in 1985.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into six series.
  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1983-1988 (1.1 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)
  • Series 2: Writings, 1980-1987 (0.2 linear feet; Box 2)
  • Series 3: Administrative Files, 1976-1988 (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 2-3)
  • Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1982-1988 (0.5 linear feet; Boxes 3-4)
  • Series 5: Printed Material, 1942-1988 (0.5 linear feet; Box 4)
  • Series 6: Photographic Material, 1970-1987 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 4-5)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Michael Bell (1946-) is a curator and arts administrator who has worked at institutions such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Bell also served on the Registrar Committee for the American Association of Museums during the late 1970s. Bell began work on contemporary Surrealists in 1975 under George Neubert at the Oakland Museum, and collected materials on Surrealism privately under the title "American Surrealist Initiative."

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed, and a finding aid prepared by Ricky Gomez in 2021.
Author
Ricky Gomez
Sponsor
The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated 1982-1988 by Michael Bell.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records and audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Preferred Citation
Michael Bell papers, 1942-1988. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Surrealism Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum administrators -- California -- San Francisco Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/