Recent Articles
Genesis Tramaine Artspace Edition Debuts at UNTITLED, ART
Artist to Watch
Genesis Tramaine Artspace Edition Debuts at UNTITLED, ART
5 Great Pieces To Bid On in the Together In Distance Auction
Investment Pieces
5 Great Pieces To Bid On in the Together In Distance Auction
What to Say About Your New Robert Longo Print
Living With Art
What to Say About Your New Robert Longo Print
News Of A Very Special Auction
Investment Pieces
News Of A Very Special Auction
10 Questions for LatchKey Gallery co-founders
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for LatchKey Gallery co-founders Natalie Kates and Amanda L. Uribe
INTERVIEW: Elmgreen & Dragset
Meet the Artist
INTERVIEW: Elmgreen & Dragset 'What We Need to do, As Cultural Workers Today, Is to Find a New Way of Getting Back Our Dignity as Citizens'
10 Questions for RESORT Gallery co-founders Seth Adelsberger and
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for RESORT Gallery co-founders Seth Adelsberger and Alex Ebstein
10 Questions for River Gallery Founder Carl E. Smith
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for River Gallery Founder Carl E. Smith
10 Questions for Davis Editions and Originals Founder Jeff Davis
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for Davis Editions and Originals Founder Jeff Davis
10 Questions for Baby Blue Gallery Founder Caleb Beck
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for Baby Blue Gallery Founder Caleb Beck
10 Questions for Carvalho Park's Jennifer Carvalho
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for Carvalho Park co-Founder Jennifer Carvalho
The Making of Love, Rihanna: Luxury Supreme
Close Look
'A Piece of Art That I am Really Proud Of' - Rihanna on Love, Rihanna: Luxury Supreme
INTERVIEW: Sterling Ruby
Meet the Artist
INTERVIEW: Sterling Ruby 'In America, often the response to negative aspects of the system is to retreat to platitudes about morals and family values. In this way nothing is achieved.'
INTERVIEW: Kerry James Marshall
Meet the Artist
INTERVIEW: Kerry James Marshall 'I never think of artworks as having a quality that’s intended to mobilize people to action. They don’t make people do things. But they do put questions in the mind of a viewer that they may not have entertained before...'
Come On Our Virtual Studio Visit With Maria Jimena Herrera
Meet the Artist
Come On Our Virtual Studio Visit With Maria Jimena Herrera

Perspectives

Watermill Center Founder Robert Wilson on Creating "A Place Where We Ask Questions"

By

Watermill Center Founder Robert Wilson on Creating "A Place Where We Ask Questions"
Watermill Center founder Robert Wilson

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Watermill Annual Summer Benefit, celebrating the Southampton center that artist and theater impresario Robert Wilson founded as a place to bring artists of all stripes together in a spirit of creative exchange. Here, Wilson—a highly accomplished collector himself, with historic holdings of work by Paul Thek and other artists—discusses the inspiration behind the Watermill Center. Click here to bid on works at the benefit auction.

In 1992, I established the Watermill Center on Long Island as a laboratory for the arts and humanities to support the work of young and emerging artists. In the ‘60s, I had a loft on Spring Street where I brought together people from various cultural, social, and economic backgrounds to create new work. Already, I had the idea of buying a place in nature where I could live and work with others. 

I spent time in the ‘60s and ‘70s out in Water Mill and have always been attracted to the landscape and the light. When I saw the old Western Union building that is now the Watermill Center—and which had been vacant since 1965, and was in terrible condition—I knew immediately that this was the right place. The building reminded me of my Spring Street loft, a factory-like space.     

Today, I feel that I am inviting artists to my home and sharing the space with them. I maintain the building and the grounds and allow artists to interface with the center, change it, and develop their own work in an aesthetic that can be completely different from my own. 

This year we are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of our Watermill Center Summer Benefit: "DEVIL’S HEAVEN" on July 27. We will showcase the works of international emerging artists alongside exhibitions of the work of Dieter Meier and Clementine Hunter. In terms of what we do at Watermill, I am proudest when we showcase work that has never been seen in the United States, like Jonathan Meese in 2008 and Mike Kelley last summer. We show this work together with the work of young artists. It is inspirational.      

We are in the process of a large-scale expansion of Watermill. We are creating a Library of Inspiration, or a Living Library, that will link bound volumes with artworks in the collection. Inspiration cannot be taught, but we hope to nurture it at Watermill. We will also create a new residency space to house artists who are working at the center. 

When I was a student, I was assigned to design a city in three minutes. I handed in a drawing of an apple with a crystal cube in the center. When asked, I explained that it was my idea for a city—that our communities need centers like the crystal cube that can reflect the universe, the same way the cathedral was the center in a medieval village. It was the tallest building, the place where people congregated to exchange ideas; where artists showed their work; and where people came for contemplation and spiritual growth. 

Watermill is such a center: a place where we ask questions. We must always ask, "What is it?" But we must not say what it is—for if we know what we are doing, there is no reason to do it.

I share Watermill with artists who are doing what no one else is doing. They continue to inspire me year after year.      

RELATED LINKS:
Perspectives: Artist Hope Gangloff on Portraiture, Hoarding Typefaces, and Country Life

DISCOVER

a treasure trove of fine art from the world's most renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. We offer exclusive works you can't find anywhere else.

LEARN

through exclusive content featuring art news, collecting guides, and interviews with artists, dealers, collectors, curators and influencers.

BUY

authentic artworks from across the globe. Collecting with us means you're helping to sustain creative culture and supporting organizations that are making the world a better place.

CONNECT

with our art advisors for buying advice or to help you find the art that's perfect for you. We have the resources to find works that suit your needs.

INSIDER ACCESS TO THE WORLD'S BEST ART

Artspace offers you authentic, exclusive works from world-renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. Collecting with us helps support creative culture while bringing you art news, interviews and access to global art resources.

  • COLLECT FROM 300+ GALLERIES & MUSEUMS