Robert Wilson

Biography of Robert Wilson

One of the foremost avant-garde theater directors or his generation, the American Robert Wilson is also a revered visual artist who has made a significant cultural impact upon the world. Adept in painting, sculpture, performance, film making and of course choreography, Wilson is a genuine Renaissance man, whose uncompromising and vivid performances are planned to the smallest detail.


After dropping out of his business administration course at the University of Texas in Austin, Robert Wilson moved to New York to explore his love of the arts. Influenced by Merce Cunningham and other choreographers, he started his own experimental theater group called the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds. Using original lighting designs, and strange manipulations of time and place, his notoriety and reputation spread fast, and by the 1970s he was staging works in Europe. In 1976 he became famous for his outstanding collaboration with composer Philip Glass on the operatic performance Einstein on the Beach.


One of Robert Wilson’s greatest strengths is his versatility, and he is capable of producing Japanese Noh Plays, classic operas, and even modern theater performances that can last more than half a day. Openly gay, Wilson delights in crossing over into all avenues of contemporary culture, such as with his macabre video portraits of Lady Gaga in 2014. He is known to spend hours arranging the light on a single hand gesture, reaffirming his belief that “light is the most important actor on stage.”


Born in 1941, Robert Wilson is the winner of a heap of awards, including the Golden Lion for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1993, and two Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships. He has had numerous retrospectives including at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1991 and that same year in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. His installations have been exhibited around the world including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 2001 and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin 2003. In 2013 Wilson participated in the White House Biennial in cooperation with the 4th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art. 

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