Born in 1971, Joana Vasconcelos is a Portuguese contemporary visual artist with a 30-year career, renowned for her monumental sculptures.
Drawing inspiration from everyday life, pop references, Portuguese traditions and the opulence of the Baroque, Joana Vasconcelos also establishes a dialogue with artists who preceded her, such as Bernini or Duchamp. In the footsteps of Niki de Saint Phalle or Louise Bourgeois, her work gathers a wide variety of media and materials, from video to textile. She updates the arts & crafts concept to the 21st century, channelling old techniques into contemporary practice. Her immersive site-specific sculptures and customised installations work in dialogue with the architecture of the place, calling upon the interaction of the viewer. Her thought- provoking yet colourful and uplifting art reaches audiences from all ages and walks of life. International acclaim arrived with the first Venice Biennale ever curated by women with The Bride in 2005, followed by Trafaria Praia, the first floating pavilion in the Biennale representing Portugal in 2013. The youngest artist and the only woman ever to exhibit at the Palace of Versailles, her 2012 exhibition was the most visited in France in 50 years. In 2018, Joana Vasconcelos became the first Portuguese artist to exhibit at Guggenheim Bilbao with a major retrospective, which was one of the most visited in the museum’s history and reached 4th place in The Art Newspaper’s annual exhibitions’ Top 10.
Her work has graced major museums and galleries, such as Palazzo Grassi, The Thyssen- Bornemisza, Royal Academy of Arts, Manchester Art Gallery, São Paulo’s CCBB, Istanbul Modern, Moscow’s Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, La Monnaie Paris, Palais de Tokyo and the Hermitage. Joana Vasconcelos’ art can be found in major international collections, such as those of CalousteGulbenkian, ColeçãoBerardo, The ÖmerKoç, Tia Collection, François Pinault and Louis Vuitton’s Foundations.
In total, more than 30 awards have been granted to the visual artist throughout her career. In February 2022, Joana Vasconcelos became an Official of the Arts and Letters Order by the French Ministry of Culture, adding to the degree of Commander of Infante D. Henrique Order by the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic in 2009. She was considered Personality of the Year by the Foreign Press Association in 2012 and won the Contemporary Art Prize in Israel in 2013. In 2012, the artist created Joana Vasconcelos Foundation aiming to promote arts for all. Besides managing her art collection, it collaborates regularly with other philanthropic entities to support social causes, develop fundraising initiatives, create special editions and/or prints. Every year it awards scholarships to encourage the study of the arts.