Associate Professor Leonard Bruce Bell

BA , PhD (Auck) , PGDip Art History (Dist) (Edin)

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Associate Professor


Leonard (or Len) Bell is a highly-regarded scholar both nationally and internationally. His writings on cross-cultural interactions and representations in all visual media, and on the works and careers of travelling, migrant, expatriate and refugee artists, photographers and architects have been published in books and periodicals in New Zealand, Australia, Britain, the USA, Germany and the Czech Republic.

His researches into cross-cultural interactions and representations in the Pacific (including New Zealand and Australia) are ongoing. This work includes exploration of the relationships between displacement and creativity, the nature and complexities of boundaries and the negotiations of socio-cultural and mental, as well as physical and architectural spaces, as articulated in visual images and objects.

Leonard Bell has had research fellowships at the National Gallery of American Art, Washington DC and at the Yale Center for British Art. He was the Daphne Mayo Visiting Professor, School of Art History, Film and Media Studies, University of Queensland in 2005.

He is on the International Advisory Board of Art History [Journal of the Association of Art Historians], and on the Editorial Advisorial Committees of the Journal of New Zealand Art History, the Journal of New Zealand Studies, and Reading Room [Auckland Art Gallery].

He has co-organised the following conferences in recent years:

  • "Displacement and Creativity: Refugees and the Arts in New Zealand", The University of Auckland, with an accompanying exhibition at the Gus Fisher Gallery, September 2001
  • "Worlds Apart: Forced Migration and Cultural Impacts in Britain and New Zealand", The University of Auckland, November 2002; an interdisciplinary conference.
  • Art Association of Australia and New Zealand annual conference, "Present Pasts: Present Futures", The University of Auckland, December 2004.

Research interests

Cross-cultural interactions and visual representations in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific; the works and careers of exiled, refugee, migrant and travelling artists, photographers and architects.

Research | Current

Associate Professor Bell has taught Art History at The University of Auckland since 1973. His MA/BA (Hons) course, ARTHIST 703, focuses primarily on cross-cultural interactions and representations in New Zealand and the Pacific region from the mid 18th century to the present, though it also includes topics from other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Asia and the Americas.

At advanced undergraduate level he teaches ARTHIST 302, Crisis and Change: Mid 19th century art in France and Britain. In 2008 he will be co-convening and introducing two new Stage I courses: ARTHIST 110, on topics in art, both Maori and European, in New Zealand from the mid 18th century till the 1960s, and the new General Education course, Reading Images, which explores how images and objects, both art and non-art, are constructed and the ways in which they can be understood and interpreted.

Teaching | Current

ARTHIST 114 Reading Images

ARTHIST 214 Art and New Zealand: Pasts and Presents

ARTHIST 314 Art and New Zealand: Pasts and Presents

ARTHIST 703AB Cross-Cultural Representation

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Bell, L. B. (2011). From Prague to Auckland: The Photography of Frank Hofmann (1916-1989). Auckland: Gus Fisher Gallery, the University of Auckland. Pages: 40.
  • Bell, L. B. (2009). Marti Friedlander. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press. Pages: 226.
  • Bell, L. B. (2008). Contributions of Jewish Individuals in New Zealand: 1840s to the Present. In A. M. Ehrlich (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora (pp. 1-3). Santa Barbara CA: ABC-CLIO.

Contact details

Primary location

ARTS 2 - Bldg 207
Level 5 , Room 510
New Zealand