Born in Waco, Texas (4 October 1941), Robert Wilson is among the world’s foremost theater and visual artists. His works for the stage unconventionally integrate a wide variety of artistic media, including dance, movement, lighting, sculpture, music and text. His images are aesthetically striking and emotionally charged, and his productions have earned the acclaim of audiences and critics worldwide.
After being educated at the University of Texas and Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, in the mid‐1960s Wilson founded the New York‐based performance collective “The Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds” and developed his first signature works, including Deafman Glance (1970) and A Letter for Queen Victoria (1974‐1975).
With Philip Glass he wrote the seminal opera Einstein on the Beach (1976).
Wilson’s artistic collaborators include many writers and musicians such as Heiner Müller, Tom Waits, Susan Sontag, Laurie Anderson, William Burroughs, Lou Reed and Jessye Norman. He has also left his imprint on masterworks such as Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, Brecht/Weill’s Threepenny Opera, Debussy’s Pelléas et Melisande, Goethe’s Faust, Homer’s Odyssey, Jean de la Fontaine’s Fables, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Verdi’s La Traviata. Wilson’s work is firmly rooted in the fine arts. He is one of the rare artists who works across artistic media without being buoyed by one method of making. The process of creation transcends a single medium and instead finds outlet within the archetype of an opera, the architecture of a building, the design of a chair, the choreography of a dance, the rhythm of a sonnet, or the multiple dynamics revealed in a Video Portrait. His drawings, paintings, sculptures and Video Portraits have been presented in major museums and institutions throughout the world, notably the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1991); the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1991); the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston (1991); The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2000); the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (2001); the Parisian Galeries Lafayette (2002); the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid (2002); MADRE in Naples (2007); Bass Museum of Art in Miami (2008); The National Museum of Singapore (2009); Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneu in Gratz (2009); ZKM in Karlsruhe (2010); MdM in Salzburg (2011); Akademie der Kunst in Berlin (2013); and the Louvre Museum in Paris (2014).
Wilson has been honored with numerous awards including two Guggenheim Fellowship Awards (1971 and 1980), a Pulitzer Prize nomination (1986), two Premio Ubu awards (1992 and 1994), the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale (1993), and an Olivier Award (2013). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the German Academy of the Arts, and holds eight Honorary Doctorate degrees. France pronounced him Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (2003) and Officer of the Legion of Honor (2014); Germany awarded him the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit (2014).
Wilson is the founder and Artistic Director of The Watermill Center, a laboratory for the Arts in Water Mill, New York.
Text Taken from the introduction to the exhibithion edited by Anna Bernardini