Since the late 1960s, Robert Wilson‘s productions have decisively shaped the look of theater and opera. Through his signature use of light, his investigations into the structure of a simple movement, and the classical rigor of his scenic and furniture design, Wilson has continuously articulated the force and originality of his vision. Wilson’s close ties and collaborations with leading artists, writers, and musicians continue to fascinate audiences worldwide.
After being educated at the University of Texas and Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, Wilson founded the New York‐based performance collective “The Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds” in the mid‐1960s, 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, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Debussy’s Pelléas et Melisande, Brecht/Weill’s Threepenny Opera, Goethe’s Faust, Jean de la Fontaine’s Fables and Homer’s Odyssey.
Wilson’s drawings, paintings and sculptures have been presented around the world in hundreds of solo and group showings, and his works are held in private collections and museums throughout the world.
Wilson has been honored with numerous awards for excellence, including a Pulitzer Prize nomination, two Premio Ubu awards, the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale, and an Olivier Award. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the German Academy of the Arts. 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.
The Archives of Robert Wilson, the Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation and the Watermill Center provide a unique paper, photographic, audio-visual and digital record of artistic and administrative activities, not to mention the arc of experimental performance and opera in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The bulk of these records span from 1965 through 2010, from Wilson’s earliest New York performances to recent Center residencies and international exhibitions. The archives are housed primarily in New York City and are accessible to scholars and collaborators by appointment only. Please provide the archivist with 48 hours’ response time for any online request.