Robert M. Wilson
Robert M. Wilson, American, Stalin Chairs, 1977, Lead over fiberglass; two parts; 85.1 x 156.2 x 154.9 cm (33 x 61 x 61 inches) (each of two chairs), The Albert Pilavin Memorial Collection of 20th Century American Art 83.151.1
Originally trained as a painter, Robert Wilson has created a distinguished body of work in experimental theater, visual art, video, and performance. His theater productions yield artworks that extend beyond the stage, such as this sculpture, Stalin Chairs, derived from his twelve-hour opera The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (1973). At a key point in the opera, two Stalins were seated in identical draped chairs, representing Stalin before and after the death of his first wife. That scene inspired this sculpture, for which Wilson covered fiberglass armatures with sheets of lead, a material that easily drapes and folds. The resulting sculpture has the narrative quality of a theatrical set, but remains mysterious—-ponderous, immovable, waiting.