Urgent Museum Notice

Viriato

Close up of Viriato

A mass-produced, ceramic German shepherd sits upright and alert with mouth open and tongue extended as if panting. Panels of elaborate hand-crafted crochet in shades of mint, citron, and emerald green form a skin-tight web that entirely envelops the dog.

Joana Vasconcelos, Viriato, 2005; Faience dog and handmade cotton crochet, 29 1/2 x 17 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Joana Vasconcelos; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Viriato
Joana Vasconcelos

Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos examines issues of national identity and consumer culture through works that test the boundary between “high” and “low” art. She is particularly known for enveloping everyday items—a piano, a laptop—in crocheted or knitted material. Because handmade textiles are universally rich with associations, Vasconcelos intends them to encourage multiple interpretations by viewers.

Named for a first-century leader in the area of present-day Portugal, Viriato comprises a commercially-made ceramic dog clad in elaborate needlework. The lacy covering masks the details of the sculpture beneath and also competes visually for our attention. By combining what is essentially a mass-produced lawn ornament with traditional crochet, Vasconcelos  reveals the dissonance between handcrafted and manufactured. At the same time, she forces viewers to confront their preconceptions about “feminine” craft and domesticity.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Joana Vasconcelos
  • Title

    Viriato
  • Date

    2005
  • Medium

    Ceramic, Cotton yarn
  • Dimensions

    29 1/2 x 17 3/4 x 15 3/4 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.
  • Photo Credit

    Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display

    Yes