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Taking place 6-28 February at The Fine Art Society in London.

The Fine Art Society are to present a major retrospective of pioneering British painter Gluck next month, coinciding with a season of activity marking the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.

Born into the wealthy family of Joseph Gluckstein – co-founder of the catering empire J. Lyons and Co – Hannah Gluckstein (1895-1978) was one of the most rebellious and trailblazing artists of her day.

By the age of 23, she had begun to call herself Gluck (“no prefix, suffix, or quotes”), had adopted men’s clothing, cropped her hair, and begun to smoke a pipe.

Fiercely individual, Gluck identified with no artistic school or movement and showed her work only in solo exhibitions, where it was displayed in a special frame she invented and patented.

Featuring 32 works, the upcoming exhibition will explore the fascinating life, work and legacy of this pioneering artist. Taking place 6-28 February, in London, it will include many of Gluck’s most significant and well-known works including Medallion (1937), a dual portrait of Gluck and her lover, the American socialite, Nesta Obermer.

Inspired by a night at the opera in 1936, Gluck’s biographer, Diana Souhami says: “They sat in the third row and she felt the intensity of the music fused them into one person and matched their love.” Referred to by Gluck as the “YouWe” picture, it was later used as the cover of a Virago Press edition of The Well Of Loneliness.

Gluck redefined what it meant to be a woman and an artist working in the 20th century and paved the way for future generations. She has inspired another exhibition running concurrently at The Fine Art Society, entitled Women Artists: A Conversation for which 12 contemporary artists have been invited to respond to Gluck’s legacy with their own original works.

In the spirit of Gluck’s fiercely-guarded sense of individuality, the exhibition presents a selection of domestic, functional, private, abstract, descriptive, discursive and decorative works in a diverse range of mediums, styles and genres, intending to show that there is no single standard for what we consider a “woman” artist.

Gluck takes place 6-28 February 2017 at The Fine Art Society in London. To find out more, visit their website.

Image: Medallion by Gluck

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