Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson

Born in Waco, Texas, Wilson is among the world’s foremost theater and visual artists. His works for the stage unconventionally integrate a wide variety of artistic media, including dance, movement, lighting, sculpture, music and text. His images are aesthetically striking and emotionally charged, and his productions have earned the acclaim of audiences and critics 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). In 1998 the renowned production of Bluebeard's Castle & Expectation, with Jessye Norman in the role of the Woman, premiered at the Salzburg Festival.

Wilson’s artistic collaborators include many writers and musicians such as Heiner Müller, Tom Waits, Susan Sontag, Laurie Anderson, William Burroughs, Lou Reed, Jessye Norman and Anna Calvi. He has also left his imprint on masterworks such as Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, Brecht/Weill’s Threepenny Opera, Debussy’s Pelléas et Melisande, Goethe’s Faust, Homer’s Odyssey, Jean de la Fontaine’s Fables, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Verdi’s La Traviata and Sophocles’ Oedipus.

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, and holds 8 Honorary Doctorate degrees. 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.



Officer of the Legion of Honor, awarded by the President of the French Republic

Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit, awarded by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany

Goethe Medal: Lifetime Achievement Award from the Goethe-Institut. Weimar, Germany

Manchester Theatre Award: Set Design for The Old Woman

Artis Bohemiae Amicis Award for the promotion of Czech culture


Received honorary doctorate from La Sorbonne. Paris, France

Paez Medal of Art, awarded by the Venezuelan American Endowment for the Arts

Olivier Award: Best New Opera for Einstein on the Beach

Received honorary doctorate from The City University of New York. New York, America


International Design and Communication Award


Der Steiger Award. Bochum, Germany

Received honorary doctorate from the American University of Paris


Hein Heckroth Prize – Lifetime Achievement for Scenic Design. Giessen, Germany

Honoree at the Orange County Museum of Art's Art of Dining 2009 Ultramodern. Newport Beach, America

Culture e Fede. Ceremony to honor artists, including Robert Wilson, presided over by Pope Benedict XVI. Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

Honoree at Alliance Française with Pierre Bergé. New York, America

Richard B. Fisher Award for Quartett. Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY, America

Jerome Robbins Award. New York, America


Received honorary doctorate from University of Bucharest, Romania

Best Theater Production in Czech Republic for The Threepenny Opera


Rosa d'Oro awarded by David Hockney. Palermo, Italy


Drama Desk Award Nominee for Outstanding Director of a Play for Peer Gynt; Best Costume Design for Jacques Reynaud; Best “Theatrical Experience”. New York City, America


Louise T. Blouin Foundation Award. New York City, America

Pratt Legends Honoree, Pratt Institute. New York, America

American Innovator Award, The Japan Society. New York City, America

Texas Medal of Arts, Texas Cultural Trust Council. Austin, Texas, America

Received honorary doctorate from University of Toronto


Commander of the Order of Arts and Letter, awarded by the President of the French Republic. France

Backstage West Garland Award: Best Lighting Design for Woyzeck. Los Angeles, America


Thomas Jefferson Award, American Institute of Architects, Houston, America

"Politika" Grand Prix Award Belgrade International Theater Festival (BITEF) for Woyzeck. Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro


National Design Award, Smithsonian Institution, National Design Museum

Houston Opera Gala

Reumert Award for Best Set Design for Woyzeck


Grand Prix de la Critique 1999-2000: Meilleur Spectacle Étranger [Best Foreign Production] for Dream Play, Syndicat de la Critique Dramatique et Musicale. Paris, France

Honored at the Mary Buckley Endowed Scholarship Dinner, Pratt Institute. New York, America

American Academy of Arts and Letters


Wilhelm Hansen Honorable Prize. Copenhagen, Denmark

Médaille d’Argent de la Foundation de l’Académie d’Architecture. Paris, France

Honorary Award, 11th International Istanbul Theatre Festival

Pushkin Prize, Moscow, Taganka Theater


Harvard Excellence in Design Award. Cambridge, Massachusetts, America


Tadeusz Kantor Prize. Crakow, Poland

April 18th is Robert Wilson Day by the Texas State Legislature

B.Z. Arts Award "Berliner Bär". Berlin, Germany


Premio Europa per il Teatro. Taormina, Italy

Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. New York, America


Best Director, International Widescreen Festival for The Death of Molière

Premio Abbiati, Italian Theater Critics Award for Hanjo/Hagoromo

Texas Artist of the Year, Art League of Houston

Guest of Honor, American Friends of the Paris Opera and Ballet, Gala Dinner


Premio Ubu, Best Foreign Performance for Alice

Received honorary doctorate from California College of Arts and Crafts. California, America


Golden Lion (First Prize in Sculpture), 45th Venice Biennale for Memory/Loss installation


Premio Ubu, Best Foreign Performance for Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights


Received honorary doctorate from the Pratt Institute. New York, America

Jack I. and Lillian Poses Creative Arts Award at Brandeis University, for Alternative and Multidiscipline Creative Art Forms. Massachusetts, America

Theatertreffen, Festspiele Berlin for The Black Rider


German Theater Critics Award, Best Production of the Year for The Black Rider

Special Mention by the Jury, "Festival du Film d'Art" for La Femme à la Cafetière video


Grand Prize, Barcelona Biennale Festival of Cinema Art for La Femme à la Cafetière video

Premio Abbiati, Best Production of the Year, Italian Theater Critics Award for Dr. Faustus

Grand Prize for Best Event, Biennial of São Paulo for Parzival and Hamletmachine furniture and drawings

New York Public Library Lion of the Performing Arts


Institute Honor, The American Institute of Architects

Premio Mondello, Award for Theater


American Theatre Wing Design Award, Noteworthy Unusual Effects for the CIVIL warS–Rome Section

Bessie Award for the CIVIL warS–Knee Plays

Le Sydicat de la Critique Musicale Award for Best Foreign Play for Alcestis

Theatertreffen, Berliner Festspiele for Hamletmachine

Skowhegan Medal for Drawing, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture


Sole nominee, Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the CIVIL warS (no prize awarded that year)

Picasso Award, Malaga Theater Festival for Overture to the Fourth Act of Deafman Glance

Obie Award for Direction for Hamletmachine


Franklin Furnace Award for Einstein on the Beach


Theatertreffen, Berliner Festspiele for the CIVIL warS–Cologne Section

First Prize, San Sebastian Film and Video Festival for Stations


Der Rosenstrauss for The Golden Windows

Harvard University Citation for The Golden Windows


Best Production of the Year, German Critics Award for Death Destruction & Detroit

First Prize, German Press Award for Death Destruction & Detroit


Le Sydicat de la Critique Musicale Award for Best Musical Theater for Einstein on the Beach

Grand Prize, BITEF (Belgrade) for Einstein on the Beach

Lumen Award for Design for Einstein on the Beach


Maharam Award for Best Set Design for a Broadway Show for A Letter for Queen Victoria

TONY Nomination for Best Score and Lyrics for A Letter for Queen Victoria


OBIE Special Award Citation for Direction for The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin


Drama Desk Award for Direction for Deafman Glance


Le Syndicat de la Critique Musicale Award for Best Foreign Play, 1970-71 for Deafman Glance

Solo exhibitions

Der Messias, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris Marais, France
Robert Willson: Videos and Drawings. Bernier/Eliades Gallery. Brussels
Der Messias - Zeichnungen. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg, Austria
Noah's Ark. Van Cleef & Arpels. Opera as the World / Centre Pompidou-Metz. Paris, France

A Boy From Texas. Cristina Grajales Gallery at Design Miami. Miami, USA
Le Violon d’Ingres. Villa Medici, the French Academy in Rome. Rome, Italy
Constellation. Glasstress. Venice, Italy
Balthus Unfinished. Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts. Lausanne, Switzerland

The Hat Makes The Man. Max Ernst Museum, Brühl, Germany
Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty. Minneapolis Institute of Art. Minneapolis, USA

Black and White. Galeria Luisa Strina. São Paulo, Brazil
Tales. Villa Panza. Milano, Italy

Glass Works. Laffanour Galerie Downtown. Paris, France

Video Portraits of Lady Gaga. Bernier/Eliades Gallery. Athens, Greece

Tropical Spring. Hiram Butler Gallery. Texas, USA
Video Portraits of Lady Gaga. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Paris, France

Einstein on the Beach. Paula Cooper Gallery. New York, USA