Robert Wilson

[Portrait of Robert Wilson, 1984]
Photographer: Helmut Blattner
BAM Affiliation Robert Wilson’s longstanding relationship with BAM goes back to the 1970 premiere production of The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud and includes the Philip Glass/Wilson epic Einstein on the Beach (1984, 1992, and 2012 Next Wave Festivals) and The CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down, Act V — the Rome Section (1986 Next Wave Festival), a work created with an international group of artists, including David Byrne. In addition to his collaborations with Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan (Woyzeck, 2002 Next Wave Festival) and Tom Waits/William Burroughs (Black Rider, 1993 Next Wave Festival), Wilson also created works in partnership with Lou Reed, including Time Rocker (1997 Next Wave Festival) and POEtry (2001 Next Wave Festival). The Temptation of St. Anthony (2004 Next Wave Festival) featured a collaboration with Sweet Honey in the Rock founder Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon. Wilson was at BAM with his retelling of Henrik Ibsen’s dramatic classic Peer Gynt (2006 Spring Season); Quartett (2009 Next Wave), Heiner Müller’s adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses, featuring Isabelle Huppert; Threepenny Opera (2011 Next Wave); and Shakespeare’s Sonnets (2014 Next Wave). Most recently, he joined forces with Mikhail Baryshnikov to create Letter to a Man (2016 Next Wave), which marked the second collaboration of the duo, the first was The Old Woman which appeared in the 2014 Spring Season.

A native of Waco, Texas, Robert Wilson was educated at the University of Texas and arrived in New York in 1963 to attend Brooklyn's Pratt Institute. Soon thereafter Wilson founded the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds and developed his first signature works, such as Deafman Glance and the Life and Times of Sigmund Freud. Regarded as a leader of Manhattan's then-burgeoning downtown art scene, Wilson turned his attention to large-scale opera. With Philip Glass he created the monumental Einstein on the Beach (1976), which achieved worldwide acclaim and altered conventional notions of a moribund form.

Following Einstein, Wilson worked increasingly with major European theaters and opera houses. In collaboration with internationally renowned writers and performers, Wilson created landmark original works that were featured regularly at the Festival d'Automne in Paris, Der Berliner Ensemble, the Schaubühne in Berlin, the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, the Salzburg Festival, and BAM's Next Wave Festival. He has also applied his striking formal language to the operatic repertoire. Wilson continues to direct revivals of his most celebrated productions, and with a practice firmly rooted in the fine arts, he often exhibits his drawings, furniture designs, and installations in museums and galleries internationally. Every summer Wilson decamps to the Watermill Center, a laboratory for the arts and humanities in eastern Long Island that brings together students and experienced professionals in a multidisciplinary environment dedicated to creative collaboration. Among his numerous awards and honors are an Obie for direction and the Golden Lion for sculpture from the Venice Biennale. He has been named a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture.
Works performed at BAM the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down: Act V -- the Rome Section, The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud, Deafman Glance, The Life And Times of Joseph Stalin, The $ Value of Man, The Golden Windows, Shakespeare's Sonnets