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Major Louise Bourgeois survey and Vasily Kandinsky exhibition for Sydney International Art Series at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

14 February 2023

Vasily Kandinsky Improvisation 28 (Second Version), 1912

Vasily Kandinsky Improvisation 28 (second version) (detail) 1912, oil on canvas, 112.6 × 162.5 cm, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By Gift 37.239, photo courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

The 2023–24 Sydney International Art Series will bring the works of three internationally renowned artists exclusively to Sydney next summer: the largest survey of pioneering artist Louise Bourgeois ever displayed in Australia and an exhibition comprehensively spanning the oeuvre of Vasily Kandinsky at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia will host the largest in-depth presentation of acclaimed artist Tacita Dean’s work in the Southern Hemisphere.

Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? and Kandinsky, from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, will feature major works never seen before in Australia including Bourgeois’ Crouching spider 2003 and Destruction of the father 1974, and Kandinsky’s Landscape with rain 1913 and Circles on black 1921.

Other key works travelling to Sydney for these exhibitions include Bourgeois’ Arch of hysteria 1993 and The vow 2003 and Kandinsky’s Improvisation 28 (Second Version), 1912 and Composition 8, July 1923.

Minister for Tourism and the Arts Ben Franklin said the three landmark exhibitions were a major coup for Sydney that positioned the Harbour City as a global cultural destination.

‘Tacita Dean, Louise Bourgeois and Vasily Kandinsky are three of the biggest names in the art world and I am thrilled we will have them exclusively in Sydney,’ Mr Franklin said.

‘Securing these extraordinary, world-renowned artists for the Sydney International Arts Series reaffirms Sydney as Australia’s cultural capital and a global hub for the arts, where art and creativity are celebrated and nurtured. It is going to be a highlight for so many visitors from interstate and overseas next summer. Around 28,000 art lovers are estimated will visit Sydney to experience these incredible collections, injecting more than $21 million of visitor expenditure into the NSW economy. Bringing the best international art to Sydney and delivering world-class cultural experiences is a key pillar of our commitment to make Sydney and NSW the major events capital and premier visitor economy of the Asia Pacific.’

Art Gallery of New South Wales director Dr Michael Brand said: ‘With an expansion that has doubled our exhibition space, we can now present major exhibitions in new and innovative ways. Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? will make history as the first monographic exhibition to be presented in the Art Gallery’s new SANAA-designed building. Spanning seven decades, the exhibition is an unprecedented display of the French-American artist’s practice featuring more than 150 works that will inhabit not one but two major spaces: the crisp, white rooms of our major exhibition gallery, and the atmospheric Tank. Here is an extraordinary opportunity to dramatise the tensions, the contradictions, and the powerful psychological oppositions, that drove Bourgeois’ art and formed its content.

Kandinsky will showcase the work of one of the pioneers of European abstraction, Vasily Kandinsky, who lived and worked across Russia, Germany and France. Featuring works from the renowned Kandinsky collection of the Guggenheim in New York, this exhibition will be presented in the original building and expands on our history of exhibitions about modern art’s innovators such as that of Kandinsky’s contemporary, Hilma af Klint, in The Secret Paintings in 2021,’ Brand said.

Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? and Kandinsky at the Art Gallery of NSW, and Tacita Dean at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, are presented as part of the Sydney International Art Series, bringing the world’s most outstanding exhibitions to Australia, exclusively to Sydney. This initiative is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW. Kandinsky is also proudly supported by the NSW Government through the Create NSW Blockbusters Funding initiative.

Tickets for Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? and Kandinsky will be on sale later this year.

Black and white portrait of Louise Bourgeois wearing a white shirt and black jacket with grey hair pulled back.

Louise Bourgeois, 1990 © Yann Charbonnier/ADAGP. Copyright Agency, 2023

Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day?
25 November 2023 – 28 April 2024

Louise Bourgeois, who was born in Paris in 1911 and died in New York in 2010, is one of the most influential artists of the past century. She is renowned for her fearless exploration of human relationships and emotional extremes across a relentlessly inventive seven-decade career. Featuring more than 150 works, ranging from her haunting Personage sculptures of the 1940s to her tough yet tender textile works of the 1990s and 2000s, Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? is among the most extensive exhibitions dedicated to a female artist ever held in Australia and the first monographic exhibition staged in the Art Gallery’s new SANAA-designed building.

Presented in two contrasting ‘day and night’ spaces (the major exhibition gallery and the Tank), the exhibition explores the powerful tensions and productive contradictions – between waking and dreaming, love and hate, conscious and unconscious, male and female – that drove Bourgeois’ art. Realised in close collaboration with The Easton Foundation, New York and curated by Justin Paton, the Art Gallery of NSW head curator of international art, Emily Sullivan, assistant curator of contemporary international art.

4 November 2023 – 10 March 2024

An innovator of abstract art and an eminent theorist, Vasily Kandinsky – who was born in Moscow in 1866 and died near Paris in 1944 – broke new ground in painting during the first decades of the 20th century. This comprehensive exhibition draws from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s rich holdings to reveal in depth the work of one of the most experimental, influential and best loved European modernists. Spanning Kandinsky’s entire oeuvre, it traces his aesthetic evolution: from his beginnings in and around Munich at the start of the century, to his return to Moscow with the outbreak of World War I, followed by the interwar years in Germany where he was an instructor at the progressive Bauhaus school, and his final chapter in Paris.

First held as Vasily Kandinsky: Around the Circle at the Guggenheim Museum New York in 2021–2022, the exhibition will be presented in the Art Gallery’s original building by Megan Fontanella, the Guggenheim Museum’s Curator of Modern Art and Provenance, in collaboration with Jackie Dunn, the Art Gallery of NSW senior curator of exhibitions.

The exhibition at the Art Gallery includes a special adjunct: a rare Sydney showing of 19th-century British medium Georgiana Houghton's spirit paintings. Astonishing in their own right, these abstract watercolours, created in the 1860s and 70s, also contextualize the spiritualist theories that played a significant role in various spheres of 19th-century culture and so deeply informed early modernism.

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