Robert Wilson (director)

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Robert Wilson, 2014

Robert "Bob" Wilson (born October 4, 1941 in Waco , Texas ) is an American director, playwright , painter, lighting designer , set designer , video artist and architect .


Wilson studied business administration at the University of Texas from 1959 to 1962 . In 1963 he moved to Brooklyn, studied architecture at the Pratt Institute and took lessons with Sibyl Moholy-Nagy , the widow of photographer and light artist László Moholy-Nagy , and he studied painting with George McNeil and worked with choreographers George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham . He continued his architecture studies with Paolo Soleri in Arizona.

Wilson, who with the help of the dancer Byrd Hoffman was able to successfully overcome his stuttering in 1958, was already working with disabled children during his studies. This culminated in 1968 with the founding of the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds in New York City and the adoption of a deaf boy.

From 1966 Wilson drew attention to himself in New York with his theater performances. In addition to his theater work, Wilson works as a painter, draftsman and designer.

In 1972 Wilson's week-long play Ka mountain and guardenia terrace was performed at the Shiraz Arts Festival in Iran . In 1976 his opera Einstein on the Beach was premiered in Avignon with music by Philip Glass and Lucinda Childs as the lead choreographer and dance soloist. In the same year he had his first solo exhibition at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. From the mid-1980s he worked on several projects with Heiner Müller , whom he met in 1977 on his second trip to America. Both had a lasting influence on the work of the other. Robert Wilson is a member of the board of trustees of the International Heiner Müller Society.

In December 2005 he was commissioned to create a permanent exhibition for the Mozart year 2006 in the Salzburg birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart . In it he combines original exhibits with his own work.

Andrzej Wirth brought Robert Wilson to the Institute for Applied Theater Studies at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen as a visiting professor .

In 2016 he directed L'incoronazione di Poppea at La Scala in Milan . He is also responsible for the set and lighting design.

In the same year he and Arvo Pärt created a staged production of several works by Pärt, which had a celebrated premiere in Tallinn under the title Adam's Passion .

Also in 2016, Wilson's second radio play Tower of Babel was published with the participation of u. a. by Edith Clever, CocoRosie, Daniel Libeskind, Jonathan Meese, Christopher Nell, Fiona Shaw and Daniel Hope.


Robert Wilson is considered one of the most important representatives of international contemporary theater. Due to his versatility as a director, set designer, architect and designer, he has fundamentally renewed theater and performance art . His work also took him to Germany, which gave theater life new impulses. With a performance of The Black Rider , a musical version of Weber's Freischütz , scored Wilson an international success. He still works on works by Büchner , Brecht , Wagner and Strauss and brings them to the stage not only in Germany but internationally.

Awards and honors


"The responsibility of the artist is not to give answers. It is to ask questions. "

- Robert Wilson



  • 1982: Robert Wilson - Die Goldenen Fenster / The Golden Windows. Municipal gallery in the Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau, Munich
  • 2010: Robert Wilson. Video portraits . ZKM , Karlsruhe
  • 2010: Political Bodies. Robert Wilson. Academy of Arts , Berlin
  • 2013: Living Rooms . Video installation. Louvre , Paris
  • 2016 to March 2018: Tales . Villa Panza, Varese
  • 2018: Robert Wilson "The Hat Makes The Man" . Max Ernst Museum , Brühl

as a curator and designer


  • Johann-Karl Schmidt : still life is real life. In: Robert Wilson: Remembering a Revolution. Gallery of the City of Stuttgart 1987.
  • José Enrique Macián, Sue Jane Stocker, Jörn Weisbrodt (Eds.): The Watermill Center - A Laboratory for Performance: Robert Wilson's Legacy. English. Daco, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-87135-054-2 .
  • Mihail Moldoveanu: Composition, Light and Color in Robert Wilson's New Theater: Thinking with the Body. Daco, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-87135-047-8 .
  • Ralph J. Poole: Performing Bodies. Crossing gender boundaries in the theater of the avant-garde. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 978-3-631-48906-2 .
  • Franco Quadri, Franco Bertoni, and Robert Stearns: Robert Wilson. Daco, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-87135-033-8 .
  • Jo Röttger: Wilson's World - with a foreword by Andrzej T. Wirth . German English. Peperoni, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-941825-03-1 .
  • Robert Wilson, Jan Linders (Ed.): Close-up: Robert Wilson: Lecture. Alexander, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-89581-165-3 . (Introductory work into Wilson's theatrical language accompanied by personal sketches and accompanying pictures)


Web links

Commons : Robert Wilson  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Robert Wilson, Director, on His Passion for Chairs in the New York Times .
  2. Andrzej Wirth. Theater scholar. In: Website of the International Heiner Müller Society
  3. Radio play of the month April 2016. In: Hö April 30, 2018, accessed August 2018 .
  4. ^ Winner: Robert Wilson. Director and visual artist, USA from, accessed on May 3, 2015.
  5. Honrary members. American Academy Arts and Letters, accessed January 13, 2019 .
  6. Award ceremony to Robert Wilson: Eva Kühne-Hörmann ( Memento of the original from February 16, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on the website of the Hein-Heckroth-Gesellschaft, accessed on April 13, 2015. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. ^ [1] The Guardian, May 8, 2013, accessed June 22, 2018
  8. ^ Remise du titre de Docteur Honoris Causa à Robert Wilson on the University of Paris website , accessed on April 13, 2015.
  9. Robert Wilson on
  10. 13th ARD Radio Play Days 2016 - The prices. November 20, 2016, accessed August 2018 .
  11. Wilson's little noise music at , accessed on May 3, 2015.
  12. Irene Netta, Ursula Keltz: 75 years of the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau Munich . Ed .: Helmut Friedel. Self-published by the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-88645-157-7 , p. 215 .
  13. Political Bodies. Robert Wilson Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  14. Thomas Kletschke: “Living Rooms” in the Louvre - Robert Wilson paints with video , accessed on February 4, 2015.