Robert Wilson (American, b.1941) is well-known for his avant-garde style spanning a range of artistic media, from choreography to directing. Wilson was born in Waco, TX. He received his business administration degree from the University of Texas before moving to Brooklyn in 1963 to study architecture at the Pratt Institute.

After the foundation of his experimental performance company, the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds, Wilson began to make his imprint in the artistic world with works such as The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud. He solidified his creative status with his collaboration with Philip Glass on the opera Einstein on the Beach in 1976. Wilson is best known for the extremity of his work, and he has been regarded as "a towering figure in the world of experimental theater" by The New York Times. Wilson emphasizes the importance of innovative forms of lighting and movement to appeal to the senses of his audiences. The emotional power and unconventional qualities of his pieces have earned him a plethora of honors, including two Guggenheim Fellowship awards, the Golden Lion for sculpture from the Venice Biennale, and selection to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Wilson has collaborated with numerous writers and musicians, from Lou Reed to Rufus Wainwright, and has contributed to multiple masterpieces, such as Madame Butterfly and The Magic Flute. In 2006, Katharina Otto-Bernstein released Absolute Wilson, a documentary on Wilson and his personal mission as an artist. Recently, the artist's 70th birthday was celebrated with the release of the fragrance Black Rider, inspired by Wilson's own flair of "mystery" and "fantasy."

Currently, Wilson is featured in the first of the Times Square Arts Installation Series in New York City. Combining HD video and time-based cinematography, Wilson displays illusionistic portraits of various celebrities, such as Johnny Depp and Salma Hayek, on the monumental street screens of Times Square. Today, the majority of Wilson's work is archived at the Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation in New York City.

Timeline

1941
Born: Waco, Texas
1959–1962
University of Texas, Austin
1962
Studied Painting with George McNeil, Paris
1965
Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, B.F.A.
1966
Apprentice to Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti Community, Arizona
1993
Golden Lion Award in Sculpture, Venice Biennale (Memory/Loss Installation)
2001
National Design Award, Smithsonian Institution, National Design Museum
2001
Andrea Palladio Award, Houston Opera Gala
2002
Award: Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres
2002
Thomas Jefferson Award, American Institute of Architects, Houston
2009
Trophée des Arts Gala 2009, French Institute Alliance Française, New York, NY [awarded Nov. 2]

Exhibitions

2010–2011
Timken Museum of Art, San Diego, CA, USA
2010
Scene - Quadro. Caporossi, Kantor, Santasangre, Wilson, La Nuova Pesa Centre for Contemporary Art, Rome, Italy
2010
Video Portraits, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, Germany
2010
Dancing In My Mind. Für Suzushi Hanayagi, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany
2009–2010
Voom Portraits, Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, Germany
2009–2010
Voom Portraits, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany
2009–2010
Voom Portraits-in Bewegung, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria
2009–2010
Voom Portraits, Palazzo Reale, Milan Italy
2009–2010
Voom Portraits, Hydra School Projects: ALPHA EXOTICA, Hydra Island, Greece
2009
The Third Mind; American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989, Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, NY
2008
Multi-Part Art: Contemporary Works from the Collection, Museum of Art Rhode Island, Providence, RI
2008
VOOM Portraits: Robert Wilson, National Museum of Singapore, Singapore
2008
VOOM Portraits: Robert Wilson, SESC Pinheiro, Sao Paolo, Brasil
2008
VOOM Portraits: Robert Wilson, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE
2007
Robert Wilson – VOOM Portraits, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY
2007
Robert Wilson – VOOM Portraits, Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, NY
2006
Peer Gynt, Bam Howard Gilman Opera House, New York, NY
2004
Robert Wilson: Chairs and Drawings, Baronian Francey, Bruxells, Belgium
2004
Robert Wilson, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2004
Robert Wilson: Selected Works, exhibition of furniture and design, ACE Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA
2004
Design‚Art: Functional Objects from Donald Judd to Rachel Whiteread, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, NY
2004
horizont(e) 1984-2004, 20th Anniversary exhibition, Galeria Luis Serpa
2002
Come in - Go Out, Museets sma meddelelser, Roskilde, Denmark
2002
Theater of Drawing: Early Artworks of Robert Wilson 1969-1976, The McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX
2002
Never Doubt I Love, La Galerie des Galeries (Galeries Lafayette), Paris, France
2001
14 Stations; Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA
2001
Wilson Wahn, Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung, Universität zu Köln, Schloss Wahn, Cologne
2001
14 Stations; Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA
2001
Wilson Wahn, Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung, Universität zu Köln, Schloss Wahn, Cologne, Germany
2001
Robert Wilson : Russian Madness, Galerie Krinzinger, Salzburg, Austria
2001
Robert Wilson's The Poles: A Celebration, Loveland, OH
2001
Alberto Giacometti inszeniert von Robert Wilson [installation], Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland
2001
Isamu Noguchi : Sculptural Design, Organized by the Vitra Design Museum in co-operation with the Isamu Noguchi Foundation, Inc. Intitial idea by Alexander von Vegesack; curated by Katarina V. Posch and Jochen Eisenbrand; collaboration by Christian Wassmann; light design by A. J. Weissbard; sound design by Peter Cerone. Design Museum, London. Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany. Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, Spain
2001
Russian Madness [installation], Included work of: Ludmila Bredkhina, Dmitry Bulnigin, Vladimir Duborssavsky, Vadim Fishkin, Vadim Fliagim, Ludmila Gorlova, Dmitry Gutov, Natalia Koudrianzeva, Oleg Kulik, Vladimir Kuprianov, Alexandre Lyachenko, Viacheslav Nizin, Anatoli Osmolovsky, Alexandre Ossachi, Dmitry Prigov, Konstantin Skotnikov, and Alexander Vinogradov. Reales Atarazanas (Valencia Biennial), Valencia, Spain
2001
Robert Wilson, Bernier / Eliades Gallery, Athens, Greece
2000
Robert Wilson Z 2: the sleeping room of people who did not know each other, Lusthaus, Vienna, Austria
2000
14 Stations, (installation), Passionstheater, Oberammergau, Germany
2000
A House for Edwin Denby and Edwin’s Last Day, (installations), Wanås Castle [Wanås Foundation], Knislinge, Sweden
2000
Le Tombeau de Suger, (installation), Basilique de Saint-Denis [Festival de Saint-Denis, Changement de temps], Saint-Denis, France
2000
Anna's Room, [installation, including performance by Ines Somellera], In Stanze e Segreti, Rotunda della Besana, Milan, Italy
2000
Robert Wilson: Time and Space, Itochu Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
2000
Memory/Loss, installation revival of work for 1993 Biennale de Venezia). Galeria Krzysztoforoy (Festival Tadeusz Kantor), Cracow, Poland
2000
Robert Wilson: Zeichnungen 1971-1996, Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich
2000
Robert Wilson: recent sculpture, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY
2000
Robert Wilson, Three Installations, Annemarie Verna, Zurich, Switzerland
2000
Anna Didn’t Come Home That Night, (installation), The Danish Museum of Decorative Art, Copenhagen, Denmark
2000
Robert Wilson on Video: selected works in theatre, opera, film, video and installation, (screenings organized by Bonnie Marranca), Location One, New York, NY
2000
Giorgio Armani, Exhibition designed by Robert Wilson; curated by Germano Celant and Harold Koda; lighting by A. J. Weissbard; music by Michael Gelasso, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Musem, New York, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain