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Robert Wilson Archives

Identifier: RWA


  • 1963-

Language of Materials

Primary languages of materials include English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Romanian, Swedish, Dutch, Japanese, and Chinese. Please confer with archivist before requesting materials.

Biographical Note

Hailed by the New York Times as “a towering figure in the world of experimental theater,” Robert Wilson has a career dating to 1963 that remains in continuous forward motion over sixty years later. His work is exacting and builds on itself, creating a self-referential yet open world straddling theater, opera, and inter-media experience. Born in Waco, Texas on October 4, 1941 to a prominent lawyer and a homemaker, Wilson was given movement therapy to correct a processing disorder by Bird Hoffman, a Waco dance instructor and artist. After dropping out of The University of Texas, Wilson enrolled in the architecture program at Pratt (BA 1966) and settled in New York. In 1967, Wilson founded the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds to explore ideas of natural movement and collective improvisation, collaborating with figures as diverse as choreographer Jerome Robbins, composer Michael Galasso, and visual artist Paul Thek. The Byrd Hoffman Foundation was chartered in 1970 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in the state of New York, giving organizational legitimacy to the diverse range of individuals making art at 147 Spring Street in SoHo.

Over the next five years, Wilson’s Byrds created long-form stage and outdoor performances such as The King of Spain and The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud (both 1969), Deafman Glance (1970), KA MOUNTAIN and GUARDenia Terrace: a story about a family and some people changing (1972), The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (1973) and A Letter for Queen Victoria (1974). The Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds was dissolved in 1975; at that time Wilson began working with professional dancers, actors and musicians, leading to the defining moment of Einstein on the Beach (1976), co-created with composer Philip Glass, poet Christopher Knowles, actor Samuel Johnson and choreographer Andy deGroat (a former Byrd).

While initially generated in a New York milieu, Wilson's work has a larger audience overseas, with France and Germany being particular loci. This Europe-via-New York dichotomy resulted in collaborations with figures as diverse as playwright Heiner Müller, singer Jessye Norman, and composer David Byrne in the 1980s, resulting in works like Hamletmachine, The Forest, Death, Destruction and Detroit, and the ill-fated yet grand multi-national opera The CIVIL warS: A Tree Is Best Measured When It Is Down. By the early 1990s Wilson’s aesthetic solidified through the use of vivid colors, angular and sparse arrangements, coolly harsh lighting and deliberate motion. Long regarded by the critical vanguard, it wasn’t until 1990 that his work gained a more populist expression. The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets premiered at Hamburg’s Thalia Theater and brought Wilson together with composer-songwriter Tom Waits and beat writer William S. Burroughs. Proving immensely popular, it was the first to be staged by non-Wilson directors via license.

Today, much of Wilson’s art is grown from the soil of The Watermill Center, an arts lab he founded in eastern Long Island, where since 1993 he has hosted workshops that invite emerging artists to collaborate on his projects and their own performances. The center was opened to the public in 2006 and utilizes the footprint of a former Western Union telecommunications lab, now outfitted with tribal artifacts, objects from Wilson’s productions, and contemporary art. The center also hosts resident artists and educational initiatives throughout the year. The instigation of Watermill also redefined the Byrd Hoffman Foundation as the Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation, thus adding administration of the Watermill Center into the nonprofit’s scope.

In the last quarter-century, Wilson has more frequently mined operatic, theater and literary repertory, albeit to ends that are quite different from the familiar and expected: Wagner’s Ring, Madame Butterfly, l’Incoronazione di Poppea, Die Driegroschenoper, Krapp’s Last Tape, and Hamlet. Wilson has also brought his hand into exhibition design and multimedia installations, including curating rooms in the Louvre in a way that recalls the Watermill Center (Living Rooms, 2013) and working on retrospective exhibitions of sculptor Isamu Noguchi and designer Giorgio Armani, as well as creating works in editions – from Video Portraits to Watermill-inspired cups for Illy Coffee.

Selected Chronology of Robert Wilson Works

Landscapes (1963.LAN, dance)
Slant (1963.SLA, video)
Junk Dances (1964.JNK, theater)
America Hurrah (1965.AMH, dance)
Duricglte & Tomorrow (1965.DUR, theater)
Silent Play (1965.SIL, theater)
The House (1965.HOU, video)
Modern Dance (1965.MOD, dance)
Silent Play (1965.SIL, theater)
Clorox (1966.CLO, dance)
Opus 2 (1966.OPS, dance)
Baby Blood (1967.BAB, dance)
Poles (1967.POL, installation)
Alley Cats (1968.ALC, dance)
Byrd Woman (1968.BYD, theater)
Theater Activity (1968.THE, theater)
The Golden Balls (1968.GOL, dance)
Huaco 1941 (1969.HUA, theater)
The King of Spain (1969.KOS, theater)
Life and Times of Sigmund Freud (1969.LSF, theater)
Deafman Glance (1970.DMG, theater)
Handbill (1970.HAN, theater)
Watermill (video)
Program Prologue Now: Overture for a Deafman (1971.PPN, theater)
Watermill (1971.WAT, theater)
New Ark (1971.NWK, theater)
Overture for KA MOUNTAIN (1972.OKA, theater)
Well Well Well... (1973.WWW, single event)
King Lyre and Lady in the Wasteland (1973.KLL, theater)
Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (1973.LJS, theater)
Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds Spring Concert (1973.BSC, single event)
Well Well Well... (1973.WWW, single event)
A Letter for Queen Victoria (1974.LQV, theater)
Prologue to a Letter for Queen Victoria (1974.PLV, theater)
Dialog/A Mad Man (1974.DMM, theater)
DiaLog 2 (1975.DL2, theater)
DiaLog 3 (1975.DL3, theater)
Dollar ($) Value of Man (1975.DVM, theater)
Solo Reading (1975.SOL, theater)
To Street (1975.TST, theater)
Bob Wilson Solo (1976.BWS, theater)
Einstein on the Beach (1976.EOB, theater)
reconfirmation of reservations (1976.REC, theater)
Spaceman (1976.SPA, video)
DiaLog/Network (1977.DLN, theater)
I was Sitting on My Patio this Guy Appeared I Thought I was Hallucinating (1977.PAT, theater)
Prologue to Deafman Glance (1978.PDG, theater)
Video 50 (1978.V50, video)
Death, Destruction & Detroit (1979.DDD, theater)
Edison (1979.EDI, theater)
From a Theatre of Images (1980.FTI, exhibition)
DiaLog/Curious George (1980.DCG, theater)
The Man in the Raincoat (1981.MAN, theater)
Medea (1981.MED, theater)
Relative Calm (1981.REL, theater)
Shirley Keep Off (1981.SKO, theater)
Deafman Glance (1981.DMG, video)
Great Day in the Morning (1982.GDM, theater)
The Golden Windows (1982.GOL, theater)
Stations (Video 13) (1982.STA, video)
Medee (1984.MEE, theater)
The CIVIL warS: A Tree Is Best Measured When It Is Down (1984.CIV, theater)
King Lear (1985.KIN, theater)
Reading/Performance 1969-1984 (1985.REA, theater)
Transmutation of Archetypes Medea & Parsifal (1986.TRA, exhibition)
Alceste (1986.ALC, theater)
Alkestis (1986.ALK, theater)
Hamletmachine (1986.HAM, theater)
Erinnerung an eine Revolution (1987.ERI, exhibition)
Death, Destruction & Detroit II (1987.DD2, theater)
Parzival (1987.PAR, theater)
Quartett (1987.QUA, theater)
Salome (1987.SAL, theater)
Overture to the Fourth Act of Deafman Glance (1987.ODG, video)
Dreams and Images: The Theatre of Robert Wilson (1988.DRE, exhibition)
Cosmopolitan Greetings (1988.COS, theater)
The Forest (1988.FOR, theater)
Martyre de Saint Sebastien (1988.MSS, theater)
Doctor Faustus (1989.DRF, theater)
De Materie (1989.MAT, theater)
La Nuit d'Avant le Jour (1989.NUI, theater)
Orlando (1989.ORL, theater)
Swan Song (1989.SWA, theater)
The Death of King Lear (1989.DKL, video)
Femme a la Cafetiere (1989. FEM, video)
Choreographie des Designs (1990.CHO, exhibition)
The Black Rider (1990.BLA, theater)
What Room (1990.WRM, theater)
Robert Wilson's Vision (1991.VIS, exhibition)
Grace for Grace (1991.GFG, theater)
Lohengrin (1991.LOH, theater)
The Magic Flute (1991.MAG, theater)
Maladie de Mort (1991.MDM, theater)
Parsifal (1991.PAR, theater)
When We Dead Awaken (1991.WDA, theater)
Mr. Bojangles' Memory (1991.MRB, video)
Orangerie Berlin (1991.ORA, exhibition)
Convidados de piedra (1992.CON, exhibition)
Monuments (1992.MON, exhibition)
Mr. Bojangles; Memory og son of fire (Pompidou) (1992.OGS, exhibition)
wundersame Welt des RW (1992.WRW, exhibition)
Binnenalster Door (1992.BIN, installation)
Alice (1992.ALI, theater)
Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights (1992.LTL, theater)
Dantons Tod (Danton's Death) (1992.TOD, theater)
Don Juan Ultimo (1992.ULT, theater)
Don Juan Ultimo (1992.DON, video)
Trisha Brown WGBH Dance for the Camera (1992.WBH, single event)
Memorie della Terra Desolata (1993.MEM, exhibition)
Monsters of Grace (1993.MOG, exhibition)
Portrait Still Life Landscape (1993.POR, exhibition)
Memory/Loss (1993.MLS, installation)
Alice im Bed (1993.AIB, theater)
Madama Butterfly (1993.MAB, theater)
Disegni de Gibellina (1994.DIS, exhibition)
Three Rooms (1994.THR, exhibition)
Hanjo/Hagoromo (1994.HAN, theater)
The Meek Girl (1994.MEK, theater)
Der Mond im Gras (1994.MIG, theater)
Skin Meat Bones (Wesleyan) (1994.SMB, theater)
TSE (Eliot) (1994.ELI, theater)
Tragedy of Hamlet (1994.TOH, video)
CIRVA (1994.CIR, exhibition)
Dragons and Silk from the Forbidden City (1995.DRA, exhibition)
Erwartung (1995.ERW, theater)
The Rooms of Seven Women (1995.ROO, exhibition)
H.G. (1995.HGW, installation)
Blaubart (1995.BLU, theater)
Hamlet: A Monologue (1995.HAM, theater)
Kitchen Benefit (incl. CW Knee Plays) (1995.KIT, theater)
Persephone (1995.PER, theater)
Snow on the Mesa (1995.SOM, theater)
Galeries Lafayette installation (1996.GAL, exhibition)
Water Jug Boy (1996.WAT, exhibition)
Four Saints in Three Acts (1996.FS3, theater)
Oedipus Rex (1996.OED, theater)
Time Rocker (1996.TIM, theater)
Jessye Norman Sings for the Healing of AIDS (1995.JYN, single event)
G.A. Story (1996.GAS, single event)
Villa Stuck (1997.VIL, exhibition)
Waco Door (1997.WAC, installation)
1. Have you been here before? 2. No this is the first time (1997.LEC, lecture performance)
Pelleas et Melisande (1997.PEM, theater)
Prometeo (1997.PMT, theater)
Rescue (Laurie Anderson's Meltdown (1997.RES, theater)
Saints and Singing (1997.SAS, theater)
Robert Wilson (Octavo) (1997.RWO, publication)
Carpets for a Magical Garden (Vorwerk) (1998.CAR, exhibition)
Relative Light (1998.REL, exhibition)
70 Angels on the Façade: Domus 1928-1998 (1998.DUS, theater)
Lady from the Sea (1998.LFS, theater)
Monsters of Grace (1998.MOG, theater)
Oceanflight (1998.OCE, theater)
White Raven (1998.WHR, theater)
The Wind (1998.WIN, theater)
Wings on Rock (1998.WOR, theater)
A Dream Play (1998.DRE, video)
Paul Landowski: le temple de l'homme (1999.TDH, exhibition)
The Days Before (1999.DYB, theater)
Orphee et Euridice (1999.ORP, theater)
Scourge of Hyacinths (1999.SCO, theater)
Sign of Light: Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (1999.SOL, installation)
Anna Didn't Come Home That Night (2000.ANN, exhibition)
Giorgio Armani (2000.GIO, exhibition)
Robert Wilson on Video (2000.RWV, exhibition)
Tombeau de Suger (2000.TOM, exhibition)
14 Stations (2000.14S, installation)
A House for Edwin Denby (2000.DEN, installation)
Anna's Room (Stanze e Segreti) (2000.SES, installation)
Hot Water (2000.HOT, theater)
POEtry (2000.POE, theater)
Das Rheingold (2000.RHE, theater)
Relative Light (2000.RLI, theater)
Woyzeck (2000.WOY, theater)
Isamu Noguchi (2001.NOG, exhibition)
Wilson Wahn (2001.WIL, exhibition)
Z2 (2001.ZE2, exhibition)
Prometheus (2001.PRM, theater)
Siegfried (2001.SIE, theater)
Three Sisters (2001.THR, theater)
Die Walkure (2001.WAL, theater)
Winterreise (2001.WIN, theater)
Never Doubt I Love (2002.NDL, exhibition)
Aida (2002.AID, theater)
Doctor Caligari (2002.DRC, theater)
Gotterdammerung (2002.GOT, theater)
Osud (2002.OSU, theater)
White Town (2002.WHI, theater)
Louis Vuitton (2002.LOU, installation)
Theater of Drawing (2002.THD, exhibition)
Chair Air (2003.CHA, exhibition)
Chair Chairs (2003.CHC, exhibition)
Moveable Seats (2003.MOV, exhibition)
Isamu Noguchi (2003.NOG, exhibition)
Temptation of St. Anthony (2003.SAE, exhibition)
Come In and Go Out (2003.CGO, installation)
Giorgio Armani: A Retrospective (2003.GIO, installation)
Immaginado Prometeo (2003.IMM, installation)
Die Frau ohne Schatten (2003.FRA, theater)
Temptation of St. Anthony (2003.TSA, theater)
A Faxing Friendship: Robert Wilson and Betty Freeman (2003.FAX, publication)
Connecting Collections (2004, exhibition)
Festival International du Film sur l'Art (2004.FIF, exhibition)
Imagines del Cuerpo (2004.IMA, installation)
2 Lips and dancers and Space (2004.2LI, theater)
Fables a la Fontaine (2004.FLF, theater)
Leonce and Lena (2004.LEO, theater)
I La Galigo (2004.ILA, theater)
My Coney Island Baby: MTA Stillwell Avenue Project (2004.MTA, installation)
Fables a la Fontaine (2005.FLF, exhibition)
Aichi World Expo (Koi Pond) (2005.KOI, exhibition)
Mozart's Geburtshaus (2005.MOZ, exhibition)
Peer Gynt (2005.GYN, theater)
Wintermarchen (2005.WIN, theater)
VOOM Portraits (2005.VOO, video)
Absolute Wilson (2006.ABS, publication)
Louis Vuitton Museum (2006.LVM, exhibition)
Jo Kondo (2007.JOK, theater)
RUMI in the blink of an eye (2007.RUM, theater)
St. John's Passion (2007.SJN, theater)
Threepenny Opera (2007.THR, theater)
Walking: A Landscape Installation (2008.WAL, installation)
Faust (2008.FAU, theater)
Happy Days (2008.HAP, theater)
Everything You Can Think Of Is True (2008.EIT, exhibition)
Der Freischutz (2009.FRE, theater)
Krapp's Last Tape (2009.KLT, theater)
KOOL Dancing in my Mind (2009.KOO, theater)
Orfeo (2009.ORF, theater)
Shakespeare's Sonnets (2009.SON)
Video Portraits (2009.VID, video)
Deafman Glance (2010.DEA, exhibition)
1433 - The Grand Voyage (2010.LGV, theater)
Katya Kabanova (2020.KAT, theater)
The Makropulos Case (2010.MAK, theater)
30th Anniversary of Solidarnosc (2010.SDA, single event)
Mind Gap (2011.MIN, installation)
Lulu(2011.LUL, theater)
Norma(2011.NOR, theater)
Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria, II (2011.RIT, theater)
Watermill Quintet (2011.WAT, theater)
The Space in Back of You (2011.SPA, video)
Robert Wilson from Within (2011.RWW, publication)
Grace for Grace Montblanc (2011.GFM, installation)
Seven Electric Chairs (Kartell) (2011.KAR, installation)
Tapio Wirkkala Park (2012.TAP, installation)
Life and Death of Marina Abramovic (2012.LMA, theater)
John Cage's Lecture on Nothing (2012.LON, theater)
Macbeth (2012.MAC, theater)
Odyssey (2012.ODY, theater)
The Old Woman (2012.OLD, theater)
Peter Pan (2012.PET, theater)
Zinnias (2012.ZIN, theater)
Franz Liszt Via Crucis (2012.FVC, installation)
Living Rooms (2013.LIV, exhibition)
Monsters of Grace II (2013.MG2, radio play)
Das Madchen mit den Schwefelholzern (2013.MAD, theater)
Peter Pan (2013.PET, theater)
1914, (2014.NIN, theater)
Les Nègres (2014.NEG, theater)
Incorazazione di Poppea (2014.POP, theater)
Rhinoceros (2014.RHI, theater)
Cheek to Cheek (2014.CTC, single event)
Illy Café Project (2014.ILY, single event)
Adam's Passion (2015.ADA, theater)
Faust I & II (2015.FAU, theater)
Letter to a Man (2015.LET, theater)
Pushkin's Fairy Tales (2015.PUS, theater)
La Traviata (2015.TRA, theater)
The Tower of Babel (2016.BAB, radio play)
Here Elsewhere (2016.HER, installation)
Noah's Ark(2016.NOA, installation)
Garrincha (2016.GAR, theater)
Endspiel (2016.END, theater)
Black and White (2017.BNW, exhibition)
The Sandman (2017.SAN, theater)
The Edda (2017.EDD, theater)
Luther: Dancing with the Gods (2017.LUT, theater)
Power and Beauty in China's Last Dynasty (2018.PAB, exhibition)
Oedipus (2018.OED, theater)
The Hat Makes the Man (2018.HAT, exhibition)
Balthus Unfinished (2018.BAL, exhibition)
La Trouvere (2018.TRU, theater)
The Jungle Book (2019.JUB, theater)
Mary Said What She Said (2019.MWS, theater)
Otello (2019.OTH, theater)
Turandot (2019.TUR, theater)
A Boy From Texas (2019.ABY, exhibition)


152 Linear Feet

Robert Wilson Archives RWA
Clifford Allen; Suzana Chilaka; Elizabeth Kammerer; Viola Kantor; Dana Kautto; Sofia Kofodimos; Eunice Liu; Stephanie Neel; Sam Weinberg
June 1, 2019
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Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the Robert Wilson Archives Repository

39 Water Mill Towd Road
Water Mill NY 11976 United States