Portuguese contemporary artist Joana Vasconcelos this week became the first woman featured in an exhibit at Château de Versailles. The state apartments and gardens outside Paris are full of her art, made of household materials, Vasconcelos’s way of focusing on women who worked in the palace, instead of on kings and queens. (Above: The Hall of Mirrors hosts Marilyn, stilettos made of stainless steel pots and lids.)
In the Gallery of Battles, three works are suspended from the vaulted ceiling. Royal Valkyrie, Golden Valkyrie and Valkyrie Trousseau use traditionally feminine handcrafts combined with industrial materials. Above: Valquíria Enxoval (Valkyrie Trousseau) is done in embroidery, felt appliqués, tatting, quartz-decorated pottery, knitting & crochet, fabrics, ornaments, polyester and steel cables, 400 x 530 x 1400 cm.
A helicopter in ostrich feathers and Swarovski crystals fills the 1830 Room. dedicated to the ascension of King Louis-Philippe. “Lilicoptère makes use of the rich, glamorous and refined aesthetics of the Ancien Régime’s royalty,” the exhibition notes explain. (feathers, Swarovski crystals, gold leaf, industrial coating, dyed leather upholstery embossed with fine gold, Arraiolos rugs, walnut wood, wood grain painting, passementerie, 300 x 274 x 1265 cm)
A large-scale tapestry full of warm textures, Vitrail fills one of the archways in the Queen’s Staircase, producing a contrast with the cold marble surfaces.
Visitors are greeted at the Gabriel Stairs by Mary Poppins, made in a similar fashion to the Valkyries.
At the entrance of the Parterre du Midi, two monumental wrought iron structures are installed side by side: Pavillon de Thé, shaped like a teapot, and Pavillon de Vin, in the form of a demijohn.
Versailles has been showcasing modern artists since 2008. More than 4 million visitors stream through the palace annually. Joana Vasconcelos, 41, came to widespread attention at the 2005 Venice Biennale with A Noiva (the bride), a chandelier made of 25,000 tampons. The exhibit runs through Sept. 30.
Joana Vasconcelos website, here.
- Female artist’s works fill Versailles palace (cbc.ca)
- Huge sculptures grace royal palace (reuters.com)