Robert Wilson, born 1941 in Waco, Texas, is an American experimental theater director, playwright, choreographer, performer, painter, sculptor, video artist, and sound and lighting designer. He is best known for his collaborations with Philip Glass in Einstein on the Beach, as well as his work with numerous other artists, including Heiner Müller, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Gavin Bryars, Rufus Wainwright, Marina Abramović, Willem Dafoe, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Darryl Pinckney, and Lady Gaga. Wilson is well known for pushing the boundaries of theater; his works are noted for their austere style, sparse movement, and often extreme explorations of time, space and scale. Since 2004, Wilson has been producing a series of high-definition videos known as the Voom Portraits. In addition to celebrity subjects, models have included royalty, animals, Nobel Prize winners and members of the homeless community.
Robert Wilson studied at the University of Texas in Austin, with George McNeil in Paris, as well as Pratt Institute in New York City. In 2013, Wilson won the Olivier Award for best new opera for his work Einstein on the Beach. In the same year, he also received an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York. In 2009, he won the Hein Heckroth Prize for his lifetime achievement in scenic design. In 1993, he won the Golden Lion for Sculpture from the Venice Biennale. He participated in documenta (1977; 1987) and the Whitney Biennial (1979; 1981). He is the founder and artistic director of The Watermill Center, a laboratory for the arts in Water Mill, New York. His wide array of works was shown in numerous international museum exhibitions including AD&A Museum, Santa Barbara (2014), The Drawing Room, East Hampton, New York (2013), Omi International Arts Center, Ghent, New York (2012), Salomon Contemporary Warehouse, New York (2008; 2009), and Berlinische Galerie (2005). His works were also included in noteworthy group exhibitions, including Chatsworth House, Bakewell (2014), Haus der Kunst (2012/13), Brooklyn Museum (2012/13), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012), Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2010), Storm King Art Center (2010), the Whitney Museum of American Art (2009), and MoMA (2008; 2009). Wilson’s work is part of various international public collections, including The Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, Australian National Gallery, Brooklyn Museum, Cincinnati Museum, Haag Gemeentemuseum, Kunstmuseum Basel, LACMA, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Miami Art Museum, Middelheimmuseum, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, MoMA, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Philadelphia Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Sprengel Museum, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Yale University Art Gallery, and The Denver Art Museum. Robert Wilson lives and works in New York City.