Azoulay awarded the prize AWARE at a ceremony at the ministry in Paris in February to two artists: 36-year-old Laetitia Badaut Haussmann, who creates photographic prints and sculptures, and 93-year-old painter Judit Reigl. Each winner received €10,000 from France's culture ministry.

Morineau asked four art professionals to each propose two French women artists: an emerging artist and an artist whose career began 20 years ago. Works by the eight nominated artists are exhibited in the windows of the culture ministry until 31 March 2017.

Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann: Maisons Françaises, une collection n°031 in situ, 2014-2016; Black-and-white print on paper 180g, 147 x 264 cm; Daybed n°4, pink pyramids, fragments, 2015; MDF wood, tiles, glue, joints, 2 x 7,5 cm x 45 cm x 125 cm; DB/FLOOR #16, 2017; MDF wood, tiles, glue, joints, 1.5 cm x 137 cm x 152 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Allen, © Emile Ouroumov;

At the awards ceremony, Azoulay spoke of the need “to deconstruct and reconstruct our outlook on the history of art and to recall the role of women and bring it the critical, intellectual attention that it deserves”. In a statement, she wrote: “Invisible for too long, put in the background, ignored, women artists must find in the 21st-century their place in all the artistic disciplines.”

Observing that women represented between 20-30 percent of artists selected for France's Prix Marcel Duchamp and Britain's Turner Prize, Morineau believed that France should have a women's art prize similar to the Max Mara Art Prize in Britain or the Gabriele Münter Preis in Germany. Morineau has long supported women artists: she curated the exhibition 'Elles' at the Centre Pompidou in 2011 and a retrospective on Niki de Saint Phalle.

Judit Reigl: Face à…, 1988; Mixed media on canvas, 180 x 130 cm; Courtesy of the artist, © Emile Ouroumov, © ADAGP, Paris, 2017

This is the first official edition of the prize, although it was piloted in association with Marie-Claire magazine in 2014 – the year when Morineau founded AWARE, which is financed by the Fondation Chanel and public funding. The creation of AWARE's website was financed by France's culture ministry.

“It's a lovely gesture,” says Tate Modern director Frances Morris, a member of the jury presided by former Centre Pompidou director Alfred Pacquement, about France's culture ministry supporting the Prix AWARE.

Laetitia Baudaut-Haussmann, ©William Simon
Judith Reigl, ©P.BOUDREAUX