May 23, 2024

Fanchon Fröhlich: The Wrong Sex

February 17 – May 4, 2023
Quiet Preview* February 17, 5:00 – 6:00pm
Public Preview February 17, 6:00 – 8:00pm

The gallery is open Monday – Friday, 11:00am – 4:00pm, and will be closed on industrial action strike days and during university holidays.

Exhibition Research Lab is pleased to present the world premiere of Fanchon Frohlich: The Wrong Sex, in collaboration with the British Art and Design Association (BADA). Curated by Dr James Schofield (LJMU) with curatorial assistance from Terry Duffy (BADA).

Fanchon Fröhlich (1927-2016), a prolific abstract expressionist painter, printmaker and draughtsperson throughout her life, her practice crossed over into a number of other disciplines including philosophy, fashion and theoretical physics. After studying The Philosophy of Science at the University of Chicago in 1944 she would emigrate to England from America in 1949, making her home in Liverpool. In her early years in England she studied Linguistics Philosophy at Oxford University, graduating in 1953, followed by a Postgraduate Scholarship at Liverpool Art College where she studied painting. From her base in the city she travelled globally, exploring new techniques and approaches to practice alongside developing many collaborations with other eminent practitioners of the time. This included abstract painter Peter Lanyon in St. Ives in the late-1950s, printmaker William Hayter at the renowned Atelier 17 in Paris in the early/mid-1960s, and calligraphic artist Goto San in Kyoto throughout the 1970s. It was during her time at Atelier 17 that her work was most prominent, leading to her writing for the internationally renowned Situationist International in 1961, and later exhibiting her prints alongside luminaries such as Marcel Duchamp and Joan Miró.

However, against this rich and varied backdrop of practice and relationships with global pioneers in their fields, she was largely overlooked in the canon of art history. Not for reasons relating to her technical creative ability, but purely because she was deemed to be ‘the wrong sex’ for an abstract expressionist painter of the time. The Wrong Sex directly addresses this prejudiced assumption to platform Fröhlich, her practice and her life. Opening out her legacy to new audiences and disseminating the impact she had across artistic, scientific and philosophical spheres. Providing a starting point for future research, response and collaboration for practitioners and BADA.

The exhibition is the first display of the archive of Fanchon Fröhlich anywhere in the world.

Much like the artist and her own way of working, the display will be dynamic and changing throughout the lifespan of the exhibition, in order to provide as much insight into the archive as possible. 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.

A full listing of the archive can be found digitally here.

*Please note, our events and projects are always open to all. However, our Quiet Preview is for visitors of all ages who require reduced volume and reduced numbers of other visitors compared to our Public Preview. As such, we may stagger entry for visitors to ensure the gallery doesn’t become too crowded at any given time.

Image: Portrait of the artist and her work, circa 1961.