You’ve heard of Kandinsky, Rothko and de Kooning, right? But what about Fanchon Fröhlich – the great abstract painter from Liverpool?
Not heard of her? No? That’s probably because she was a woman.
“Fanchon exhibited alongside Joan Miró in the 60s but was largely overlooked, not because of her art but purely because she was deemed to be ‘the wrong sex’ for an abstract expressionist painter of the time,” explains Dr James Schofield, lecturer in art at Liverpool School of Art and Design.
James, along with colleagues at the British Art and Design Association, are setting the record straight for the American-turned-Scouser with an exhibition of her oeuvre in the John Lennon Building – February 17 to May 4.
The exhibition The Wrong Sex is the first display of the archive of Fanchon Fröhlich anywhere in the world.
“We directly address this prejudiced assumption to platforming Fröhlich, her practice and her life,” add James.
“The aim is to open out her legacy to new audiences and show the impact she had across artistic, scientific and philosophical spheres.”
Fanchon Fröhlich, was born in Iowa, USA in 1927, and lived in England from 1949 until her death in 2016. Her alma maters include the University of Chicago, Oxford and LJMU ‘origin college’ the Liverpool College of Art, where she studied Fine Art.
From her base in the city she travelled globally, exploring new techniques and approaches to practice alongside eminent post-war artists and printmakers at Atelier 17 in Paris.
Throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, Fanchon and her husband, an eminent scientist, were at the heart of Liverpool’s own ‘Bloomsbury Group’ playing host to Erwin Schrödinger, Richard Feynman. John Cage and Beryl Bainbridge.
Dr Schofield, who has curated the new exhibition with Terry Duffy, from BADA, added: “Much like the artist and her own way of working, the display will be dynamic and changing throughout the lifespan of the exhibition.
“Incorporating original storage items from the archive into the curation of the exhibition, many of the previously unseen items will be articulated in new, non-chronological, relations with one another to provide a fluid dialogue that encourages further interaction and study.”
The Wrong Sex: Franchon Fröhlich will show at the Exhibition Research Lab, John Lennon Art and Design Building, Duckinfield Street, L3 5RD
NB: At her death, BADA was bequeathed a unique and substantial collection of art and important biographical documents that make up the ‘oeuvre’ and social narrative of the life of Fanchon Fröhlich - artworks, letters, journals, and papers.