Connect with Firenze Made in Tuscany

Sign up our newsletter

Get more inspiration, tips and exclusive itineraries in Florence

Royal Valkyrie di Joana Vasconcelos alla Tribuna degli Uffizi - photo Lionel Balteiro for Atelier Joana Vasconcelos

text Francesca Lombardi
photo Lionel Balteiro for Atelier Joana Vasconcelos

October 6, 2023

Joana Vasconcelos at the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi

Three spectacular works by the Portuguese artist on show in Florence until 14 January 2024

A breath of fresh air, a colourful breeze has entered the Sala Bianca and the Sala di Bona at Pitti Palace; and the beautiful Tribune at the Uffizi… It’s a special kind of wind, with the name and the shining eyes of Joana Vasconcelos. The Portuguese artist who fuses myth, history and tradition with irony and irreverence to challenge conventions and gender stereotypes is in Florence until 14 January with three spectacular pieces. Between Sky and Heart is the title of an exhibition - curated by Uffizi director Eike Schmidt and art critic Demetrio Paparoni - in which, while on the technical level the artist uses artisan techniques and objects linked to domestic life, in design terms she adopts a monumental scale that requires an engineering approach. The two dimensions, intimate and spectacular, blend seamlessly in works that engage through aesthetics and then stimulate reflection. And all with the characteristic lightness that is one of the artist’s codes.

For the exhibition, the Sala Bianca in Pitti Palace hosts Marilyn, a gigantic pair of high-heeled shoes similar to those worn by Monroe in The Seven Year Itch. Amidst their silvery sheen, something strange is immediately apparent: the shows are not made of exquisite metallic mesh, but of stainless steel pans and their matching lids. So the sculpture is born of a paradox: ordinary kitchen utensils interlock to create an elegant fashion item on a giant scale, and a powerful weapon to challenge gender paradigms.

Marilyn di Joana Vasconcelos in sala Bianca Palazzo Pitti - photo Lionel Balteiro for Atelier Joana Vasconcelos

Still at Pitti Palace, the Sala di Bona hosts Happy Family, an astonishing reinterpretation of the Christian Holy Family theme. The delicacy of ceramics and the lightness of wood usually chosen for this type of sculpture are replaced by the hardness of concrete, but its forcefulness and masculinity are enveloped in the soft femininity of crocheted pieces.

Happy Family di Joana Vasconcelos a Palazzo Pitti - photo Lionel Balteiro for Atelier Joana Vasconcelos

Lastly, Royal Valkyrie is an intricate interweaving of fabrics, wool, cotton, laces, padding, sequins, beads, feathers and LEDs that looms from the ceiling of the Tribune at the Uffizi with all the power of the female warriors it is named after. Joana Vasconcelos restores the sensuality and tenderness the Valkyries have been stripped of, while exalting their role as paladins of freedom.

Joana Vasconcelos

You may be interested


Connect with Firenze Made in Tuscany