Press Release

Frieze Masters 2021: Virgin. Muse. Heroine.
May 11, 2021



Robilant+Voena is pleased to present an outstanding selection of female portraits from gold-grounds to Warhol for Frieze Masters 2021. Bold and heroic, proud and enigmatic—this selection of masterworks moves beyond simplistic labels, prompting viewers to reflect on evolving perceptions of womanhood.


Revisiting the theme of ‘Virgin. Muse. Heroine.’, the presentation extends beyond classical and biblical figures to include modern icons, interrogating changing views of women’s strength, sexuality, and standing.

An exquisite gold-ground of the Madonna by Fernando Yáñez dela Almedina portrays the archetypal virgin. Paintings of saints, biblical heroines, and mythological goddesses, such as Cesare Dandini’s luminous Diana, present women as figures of heroic suffering and inspirational strength. Many portraits display an intriguing duality. Andrea Appiani’s image of Josephine Bonaparte shows her as a blushing bride yet hints at her forceful character. At the same time, the bodies of Edgar Degas’s dancers are beautifully delineated but also represent strong women engaged in their work.

Depictions of women by great artists of the modern-day offer complex visions of women and their place in society. Giosetta Fioroni’s The Glasses presents a direct female gaze, the areas of blank canvas keeping her out of the viewer’s reach. Andy Warhol’s iconic One Multicolored Marilyn exposes the commodification of feminine beauty in a provocative twist on the concept of an artist’s muse.