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A Minimal Look at a Renaissance Man

A DARLING of the European avant-garde, Robert Wilson is known mostly in Germany and France, where his unusual and frequently lengthy works are state subsidized. American audiences may remember his collaboration with minimalist composer Philip Glass (``Einstein on the Beach'' (1976), and his original production, ``the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down'' (1983-85). The only nominee for the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in drama, ``the CIVIL warS'' was rejected by the prize board because the huge spectacle had never been performed in its entirety. The piece that put Mr. Wilson on the theatrical map was ``Deafman Glance'' (1970), inspired by a hearing-impaired boy whom Wilson adopted in the '60s. It was a series of silent pictures and stories culled from the boy's drawings. ``Deafman Glance'' was performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and toured Europe, where it scored points for Wilson with the surrealists and such absurdist playwrights as Eug`ene Ionesco. It also won him the New York Drama Desk Award for direction and the French Critics Award for best foreign play.

The Texas-born Wilson is a renaissance man, working in nearly every art form. He holds a degree in interior design from Pratt Institute, and has worked with the Arizona-based architect Paolo Soleri. His drawings and sculpture can be found in major museums in the United States and abroad. He has designed stage sets and lighting and has taught movement.

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Wilson directed the Strauss opera ``Salome'' at La Scala in Milan in 1987. In 1988 he directed and co-choreographed the ballet ``Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien'' at the Paris Opera Ballet.

His future projects include ``Doktor Faustus'' for the Frankfurt Opera, Mozart's ``The Magic Flute'' at the Op'era Bastille, and an exhibition at Centre Pompidou in Paris.

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