Visitors can now discover the fearless creativity of the famed French–American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) in the major exhibition Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day?, exclusive to Sydney and part of the Sydney International Art Series 2023–24.

Spanning two major exhibition spaces over two floors of our new North Building and including more than 120 works, this exhibition is the largest and most comprehensive display of Bourgeois’s work ever seen in the Asia-Pacific region, and one of the most extensive presentations ever dedicated to a woman artist in Australia.

The exhibition is curated by the Art Gallery’s head curator of international art Justin Paton and realised in close collaboration with The Easton Foundation, New York, which administers the legacy of Louise Bourgeois.

Born in Paris in 1911 and living and working in New York until her death in 2010, Bourgeois is considered one of the most influential artists of the past century and is revered for her daring and often confronting and intense exploration of themes such as family, motherhood, sexuality and mortality.

Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? explores the full breadth of the artist’s practice across her seven-decade career, from large-scale sculptures through to fabric works, watercolours, works on paper, bronzes and more.

Many of the works have never before been seen in Australia, including the iconic and monumental spider sculpture Maman 1999, which has been installed in the forecourt of the Art Gallery’s South Building as a dramatic first encounter with the work of this groundbreaking artist. Other major works being seen by Australian audiences for the first time include The Destruction of the Father 1974 and Clouds and Caverns 1982–89.

The exhibition continues in two distinct spaces in the North Building: first there is the chronological rooms of ‘Day’, on  lower level 2.

The Spiral
The Good Mother
Nature Study
My Own Voice Wakes Me Up
Clouds & Caverns
Breasts & Blade

Then there is the darkness rein  of ‘Night’, downstairs in the Tank, a former Second World War fuel bunker.

Louise Bourgeois Video Still

Here is where viewers will encounter works such as  Arch of Hysteria 1993 and the immense mirror sculpture Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? 2007, from which the exhibition takes its name.

The exhibition is enriched by rare videos and voice recordings of the artist, along with a haunting musical contribution by Sweden-based American composer and musician Kali Malone, available as part of a free audio experience, and projections of the artist’s psychoanalytic writings in the Tank re-presented by renowned American text-based artist Jenny Holzer, which give voice to Bourgeois’s dreams, desires and personal anxieties.

Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, as part of the Sydney International Art Series, bringing the world’s most outstanding exhibitions to Australia, exclusively to Sydney.

Art Gallery of New South Wales director Michael Brand said: ‘Bold artists inspire art museums towards new approaches. I am proud that Bourgeois’s art has inspired an exhibition that is itself exploratory and fully exploits the dramatic potential of our expanded art museum to reveal the ceaseless exploration of life’s extremes that characterised her work.

‘This ambitious exhibition is like none other presented at the Art Gallery, and we are very proud to bring this unique experience to Sydney this summer,’ said Brand.

For more information and tickets on the solo exhibition, and to explore the full range of public programs, visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ website.

Text and photos of artworks by Ben Apfelbaum