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Atelier Joana Vasconcelos.

Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos creates large-scale works that amplify complex topics, like consumerism, identity, and the status of women.

Biography

Joana Vasconcelos is a Lisbon-based visual artist known for her large-scale installations that communicate the complex nature of our times. For the past three decades, she has created art that addresses topics like consumerism, collective identity, tradition, and the status of women. From a four-floor, 32,000-square-foot studio, she has formed a multifaceted visual practice, which includes sculpture, installation, drawing, film, and more—seen in museums, galleries, fashion shows, public parks, and more—she engages with contemporary society through an accumulation of everyday objects, immersive scale, and perspective-changing environmental contexts. Her feminist viewpoint, sense of humor, eye for beauty, and quick wit also confront arbitrary boundaries drawn between art and domesticity.

In 2005, in the first Venice Biennale ever curated by women, she presented a monumental chandelier-like sculpture made of cotton tampons entitled The Bride, which marked the beginning of an ongoing series dedicated to matrimony. In 2009, she created a giant pair of stilettos made of pots and pans, named Marilyn, to comment on the inclinations and expectations of womanhood. In 2012, she became the youngest artist and only woman ever to present artwork at the Palace of Versailles. The survey show became the most-attended exhibition in France in 50 years, welcoming more than one and a half million visitors. In 2013, she represented Portugal at the 55th Venice Biennale in the exhibition’s first floating pavilion, with the work Trafaria Praia. And in 2018, Vasconcelos was the first Portuguese artist to exhibit at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao with a major retrospective, including Solitaire, a sculpture made of golden wheel rims and whiskey glasses that mimics an engagement ring. 

Last year in Paris, Vasconcelos collaborated with Dior’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, on the maison’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection scenography. She designed an all-encompassing world of voluminous, dazzling, detailed sculptures suspended from the ceiling in rich blues, purples, and reds, as one of her latest “Valkyrie” installations dedicated to the mythological warrior goddesses. A few months later, it made an appearance in Roche Bobois’s booth at Milan Design Week.

Vasconcelos also created last fall Tree of Life for Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes in Paris and Wedding Cake for Lord Jacob Rothschild’s Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England. Created over the past five years, the latter—an immersive, 40-foot-tall sculptural pavilion made of ceramic tiles in the shape of a wedding cake—is one of her most anticipated works to date and will join the property’s private collection.

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