Featured in
Issue 10

Questionnaire: Camille Morineau

The renowned art historian and curator of this year’s Spotlight section shares her formative passions and current inspirations

BY Camille Morineau in Frieze Masters | 15 OCT 22


In 2014, you co-founded the non-profit organization Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions (AWARE). What are your objectives for the project?

AWARE’s goal is to rewrite art history to include the women artists who contributed to its development but were omitted from its story. It’s hard to curate a show or sell work by an artist about which no information is available; AWARE provides the first step by compiling women artists’ biographies and making them accessible to everyone for free on its website.

Can you pinpoint one work of art that inspired you to become an art historian?

Pierre Bonnard’s Nu dans le bain (Nude in the Bath, 1936). I first saw it in the early 1980s, when I was about 20 years old. I was struck by the fact that it’s a nude that’s not erotic; it’s more of an exploration of depth and colour, like a meditation on painting itself.

Whom do you admire most in history?

The philosopher Simone Weil or the writer Marguerite Duras. They walked the walk as well as talking the talk.

In one sentence, how would you describe this year’s Spotlight section at Frieze Masters, which you’re curating?

Half a century of art history by the often-forgotten half of the population.

Margit Szilvitzky, Floor Object 1 | Padló objekt 1, 1977, folded and sewn linen, 18 × 32 × 45 cm. Courtesy: the artist and acb Galéria, Budapest

Of the artists featured in the Spotlight section, is there one you wish you could have met? Or one that you especially enjoyed meeting?

ORLAN. I know her well. She’s not only an important feminist artist but a kind and generous spirit, and a great listener. Her support of other women is a personal as well as a political commitment.

Which do you think is the most radical work in the Spotlight section?

The section features works by women artists that are radical for different reasons. Some are political: Sonia Balassanian’s ‘Hostages’ series (1980) or Lucia Marcucci’s feminist collages, such as Non possumus (1971). Others are revolutionary in terms of artistic approach, like Margit Szilvitzky’s linen sculptures of the 1970s, or, because of their erotic subject matter, the surrealist drawings of Leonor Fini. All of these women were radical for their persistence in pursuing creativity despite systematic societal opposition.

Which contemporary artists do you find particularly interesting?

Tacita Dean. I have worked with her on exhibitions in the past and I love her filmmaking, for which she is mostly known, but I find her drawings and photographs particularly interesting. Works such as Where England (2018) and No Deal (2019), for example, are fascinating explorations of contemporary British politics.

If you could live with only one piece of art, what would it be?

It changes every week! This week, it would be a work by the American Abstract Expressionist and colour field artist Vivian Springford. I discovered her work whilst curating the Spotlight section and would love to have one of her ‘stain’ paintings of the 1960s–80s.

What’s your favourite title of a work of art?

Marlene Dumas’s The Particularity of Nakedness (1987).

What do you wish you knew?

How to cook well.

What should change?

The ratio of women artists shown in galleries.

Lucia Marcucci, Dei Gratia, 1978, imprint, collage and acrylic on cardboard, 70 × 50cm. Courtesy: Frittelli Arte Contemporanea, Florence; photograph: Claudia Caraldi

What is overrated?

The auction value of works by Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Francis Bacon, Alberto Giacometti and Edvard Munch – who are often listed as the most expensive artists at auction, way above their female counterparts.

What is underrated?

The auction value of works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Jenny Saville and Yayoi Kusama – major figures whose works currently sell at a fraction of those by their male counterparts.

What should people avoid?

Blue chip art.

What are you reading?

Véronique Chalmet’s Peggy Guggenheim: Un fantasme d'éternité (2009) and Gloria Steinem’s Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983).

Are there any characters from a book or film you wish were real?

Shuri, the superhero princess of Wakanda, who first appeared in Black Panther vol. 4 (2005) by Marvel Comics and the blockbuster film adaptation of 2018.

Which artwork that you encountered recently has had the greatest impact on you?

La chambre bleue (The Blue Room, 1923) by Suzanne Valadon, which I showed in a recent exhibition. She’s such an underrated artist.

Are there any quotes you live by?

‘Never forget that it only takes a political, economic or religious crisis for women’s rights to be called into question. These rights can never be taken for granted. You must remain vigilant throughout your life.’ Simone de Beauvoir (said to Claudine Monteil in 1974 and quoted in Simone de Beauvoir et les femmes aujourd’hui, 2011).

Where do you wish you were at this moment?

In Venice on a terrace with a Bellini cocktail in hand, between exhibitions at the Biennale.


Limited tickets to the fairs are available and selling fast. Don't miss out, book yours now.


Thumbnail: Sonia Balassanian, Hostages #38, 1980, mixed media, 97×70cm. Courtesy: the artist and Ab-Anbar Gallery, London

Main image: Marlene Dumas,
The Particularity of Nakedness, 1987, oil on canvas, 140.1×300.4×2.5cm. Courtesy: Peter Cox and the Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands

Camille Morineau is a curator and art historian. She is co-founder and Research Director of AWARE (Archives of Women Artists, Research, and Exhibitions).