Oct 12, 2015, 6:30PM

Lauder Lecture on Contemporary Art: Robert Wilson



Glandt Forum, Singh Center for Nanotechnology
University of Pennsylvania
3205 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA
Portrait: Robert Wilson (2011)

Photo: Lucie Jansch.

The Institute of Contemporary Art presents the inaugural Lauder Lecture in Contemporary Art, an annual speaker series that brings the most inspiring and creative thinkers and practitioners of our time to the University of Pennsylvania. The Lauder Lecture provides radical perspectives on the vital significance of contemporary art in our world. Robert Wilson, one of the world’s foremost avant-garde theater artists, will reflect on his own career, including his collaborations with artist Christopher Knowles, whose solo exhibition is currently on view at ICA.

RSVP Strictly Required


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

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. 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.