Stephanie Manasseh: 2021


Stephanie Manasseh





    Stephanie, how would you describe what you do in a few words? 

     I  work on many different projects but I have to say that my greatest passion is conceiving art projects and taking them from conception to reality. I love making magical things happen by bringing people together in an art setting.


    If you could have a meal with any artist from any time:

    a)   what would the meal be –


    It would have to be a plate of spaghetti with fresh truffle and an excellent bottle of Barolo.


    b)    who would it be with, and Why?


    It would have to be Sol LeWitt. It would be excellent preparation for my upcoming retrospective of his at the Jewish museum!

    I know that Sol was a big fan of Italy and spent a lot of time there so I am confident that he wouldn’t object to my choice of food and wine. As we are both lovers of Classical music, I would let him choose the soundtrack of the dinner 


    Tell me about your earliest memory surrounding art, and when did you decide to pursue a career in art?


    My mother is a prolific artist and my earliest memory was sitting in our basement in Canada watching her paint her beloved Canadian landscapes.

    As an immigrant from Israel, it was a stark contrast to what she grew up surrounded with.


    I decided to pursue a career in the arts when I moved to Europe in 1997 and got a job teaching English at the University of Economics in Prague (when you could still smoke in the classrooms) and I wanted to find a way to promote my mother’s work in Prague and other European cities.


    Little did I know that the art market was opaque and not easily penetrable. Lots of work and networking was to be had before I could dip my toe into the art world waters. It was when I moved to Belgium in 2004 that I saw a gap in the market and decided to set up ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) to give artists without gallery representation a chance to sell their art in a high-end art fair setting.



  • What was your first position in the ‘art world’? 


    When I moved to Brussels in 2004 I got a job in a gallery dealing in African and Oceanic art. The gallery was housed in a UNESCO protected building by Belgian architect and artist Victor Horta, so the contrast of the works against the Art Deco background was staggering. I never managed to facilitate a sale because I knew nothing at all on the subjects at the time but the learning curve was steep and I came out with a new set of skills and knowledge. I was very appreciative of the time I had there.


    And do you have a top tip for someone starting out in the art world? 


    Grow a quality network from day 1 and don’t be fooled by people with big Instagram followings. It’s the person the counts.


    What was the first piece of artwork you bought/collected, and what is the jewel in your art collection Stephanie? 


    I have a sculpture of a bird by artist Johanan Herson in simple metal and wood. I love the simplicity of it and it sits on my desk and watches over me.


    This is a tricky one I know! - If you could own any piece of artwork, what would that work be, and where would you hang it? 


    The trickiest of them all…. The Last Supper- and I would hang the fresco across from my sofa and look at it every day.  It would be too rude of me to take it out of the public eye for very long, so I would just borrow it for a year and only invite people I love or people I want to know to come and see it.

    What a year that would be!


    What has been your experience of the creative world so far? 


    I live and breathe creativity. I am happiest when I am surrounded by creative people and when I am creative myself. It was an incredible realisation during the pandemic just how important creativity is to me! So many wonderful projects have come out of that challenging time, so in fact even if it was difficult on so many levels,  I am grateful for it.

  • How would you reframe the conversation around art to get more people involved? 


    I think I have done that with ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) which I established in the 15 yeas since I started the fair. Breaking boundaries between artists and art lovers has been a great joy and a great achievement for me.


    What are some things you’re committed to fulfilling in your career? 


    I am in the process of creating an arts hub in rural Massachusetts at the home and studio of sculptor Jonathan Prince @jonathanprincesculpture. We are setting up a platform to host conferences, fireside discussions and collaborations in art and digital technology. This is a huge commitment and labour of love and has been several years in the making. I believe that this house will serve a wonderful meeting place for top thinkers and creatives- I would say this ticks the box of fulfilling a dream and of creating something of real value for years to come. @Berkshire_house


    What has been the highlight of your career so far Stephanie? 


    At my age and with my 20 years’ experience in the art world, there cannot be just one highlight!  I have loved creating ACAF 15 years ago just from an an idea and an understanding that unaffiliated artists need a platform to show their work. I am also so grateful to have the opportunity to curate a Sol LeWitt exhibition in Brussels (December 2021) and as a Jewish woman to be able to curate a show by a Jewish artist at the Jewish Museum in Belgium means a lot to me.


    I have been blessed by a prolific and satisfying career that will continue to be exciting and diverse in the years to come.


    What is your greatest indulgence in life? 


    Spending quality time with my 2 daughters.


    Looking ahead, what do you think could be your biggest challenge? 


    In the past the biggest challenge was juggling parenting with a career in the art world. Now that my girls are older I realise that they didn’t mind my travel and appreciate all that I have achieved and support my eclectic career, so in fact I spent time worrying and was hard on myself for nothing!

    At the moment, the biggest challenge is jet lag which gets harder with age!


  • What would be your dream project? 


    I am doing it now with Berkshire House! And so excited about our October launch!


    Stephanie, who is your favourite historical female artist?


    Definitely Frida Kahlo! A woman who was not afraid to speak her mind and paint things that made people uncomfortable and got them talking.


    What one song should be added to the She Curates playlist?


    Music plays such an important role in my life but at the moment the one song that is on repeat is San Luis by Gregory Alan Isakov- just goes straight to my heart. I can’t wait to see him play live again @gregoryalanisakov


    And who are your favourite current practicing women artists? 


    Amy Sherald @asherald

    Sigalit Landau @sigalit_landau

    Zoya Cherkassy @cherkassky

    Juliette Lemontey @juliettelemontey

    Kate MccGuire @katemccguire


    Is there anything else you wanted to say Stephanie? 


    I am grateful for this interview, thank you.  And, please support living artists.