Fanchon Frohlich

Fanchon Fröhlich Archive

Artist & Philosopher

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 the 20th Century female artist and philosopher, Fanchon Fröhlich, who lived and worked in Liverpool from 1949 until her death in 2016.

Fanchon Fröhlich, born Audrey Fanchon Aungst, in Iowa USA in 1927, lived in England from 1949 until her death in 2016. She graduated in The Philosophy of Science from the University of Chicago and, following post-graduate courses in Linguistics Philosophy at Oxford University and in Fine Art at the Liverpool College of Art, she worked with eminent post-war British abstract expressionist artists and printmakers, such as Peter Lanyon in St Ives in the 1950s and William Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris in the 1960s. Lanyon and Hayter were perhaps the two greatest influences on the expansive, gestural, sweeping qualities in her work, which can be found in collections at The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and The Bowes Museum in Northumberland.

Fanchon’s husband was Herbert Fröhlich FRS, the internationally renowned Theoretical Physicist. Throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, Fanchon and Herbert were at the heart of Liverpool’s own ‘Bloomsbury Group’ playing host to a long list of distinguished scientists, artists, writers, composers, and assorted polymaths at their rambling home.

Guests were the Nobel Prize winner, Erwin Schrödinger, and the renowned American physicist, Richard Feynman. John Cage made recordings of his discussions with Fanchon during his visits to Liverpool, and Beryl Bainbridge, the novelist, was a friend and frequent visitor; the roll call is impressive.

In 1992, a chance meeting with the artist, Terry Duffy, who already had links with John Cage and Art Games, helped crystalise Fanchon’s ideas on what was to become the ‘Collective Phenomena’, which became a series of ‘happenings’ involving two or three female artists, collectively painting on large horizontal canvases, accompanied by improvised keyboard-playing by the internationally renowned composer, Lawrence Ball.

For two decades, Fanchon was Collective Phenomena’s creative driving force, which was informed by her deep understanding of the unconscious mind and its potential to change the world. This was a fitting last flourish in a lifetime of making art, the embodiment of a remarkable woman and a remarkable life. Fanchon was a formidable artist and intellectual who could inspire a new generation.

At her death, Fanchon’s legacy was a large collection of socially, academically, and scientifically important artworks, letters, journals, and papers, which has been acquired by British Art and Design Association.