He was particularly known for his sculptural decorations for architecture and military memorials, along with the work he conducted alongside Wright.
Three years in school at the Berlin Academy studying with Schaper was followed by more studying at the Ecole des Beaux Arts School in Paris under Alexandre Falguière and then a tour of Florence, Italy. In 1891 he returned to his American hometown of Chicago to establish a permanent sculpture studio downtown. Almost immediately upon Bock's return to America, he received three major commissions. For the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, he sculpted major architectural works for two of the event's primary buildings, the Mining and Electricity Exposition Halls. He took on a 14-year-old apprentice, James Earle Fraser, who would later design the famous sculpture The End of the Trail and the Buffalo nickel.
He also won a competition to execute an exterior sculpture at the Indianapolis Public Library in 1892.
He created interior bas-reliefs for Chicago's famous Schiller Building, during which time, in the winter of 1891 to 1892, Bock studied under its architect Louis Sullivan. It was in the Sullivan's office that Bock met Frank Lloyd Wright.
Bock also created the Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument in Alton, Illinois along with a bronze group of sculptures in Chickamauga, Georgia. For the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska in 1898, Bock composed all the sculptures for the Machinery and Electricity Building, a centerpiece of the fair. At the same time, he made the pediments for Omaha's Burlington Train Station.
On November 1, 1899, Bock married Martha Higgins Methven, sister of his colleague Harry Wallace Methven. After returning from their honeymoon, Bock won a competition to help create the Illinois monument at the Shiloh Civil War battlefield. He also worked on sculptures for the Missouri State Building at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.
"One late acquaintance, however, which gives me much pleasure, is Richard Bock, Sculptor, who has moved to Oak Park, and will occupy the balcony [of the studio]. He has decided to put himself under Mr. W[right]'s criticism for a period, as it is his ambition to become a solely Architectural Sculptor. He will do work for the Buffalo [Larkin] building..."
The two became close friends and their families often spent time together. Wright designed a sculpture studio for Bock in River Forest, Illinois called "The Gnomes." The two worked together for over 20 years.
The Horse Show Fountain in Scoville Park in Oak Park, Illinois, sometimes called the Wright-Bock Fountain, is generally believed to be a product of Bock, but the actual attribution is a bit fuzzy. Donald P. Hallmark, a Bock historian, stated the fountain was designed by Bock between 1907 and 1908 but with the help of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was Bock himself who suggested that it was Wright who pushed for the central opening in the fountain, and thus he "began to lay claim to the whole project." The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation claims the work as a Wright design from 1903. The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust lists Wright as the architect and Bock as the sculptor.
In 1969, the badly deteriorated original fountain was reconstructed and a replica of Bock's work placed in Scoville Park at the corner of Oak Park Drive and Lake Street in Oak Park.
After a researcher at Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois became interested in Bock and learned that his works did not have a permanent home in a museum, he contacted the sculptor's children, who remained in possession of the collection. The children, Thorwald Methven and Dorathi Bock Pierre, donated the collection to Greenville College in 1972 on the condition that the collection always remain on display. The Richard W. Bock Sculpture Collection includes drawings, documents and photographs, and most importantly, over 300 bronze and plaster sculptures of Bock's. In addition, some of Frank Lloyd Wright's work which had never before been displayed became part of the collection. Recently renovated, the Bock museum has been redesigned as a fitting home for Bock's masterpieces.