Black and white image depicting Laurie Anderson with "Drum glasses"

Laurie Anderson, Drum glasses (also called Head Knock), 1979 Filmstill © Laurie Anderson


Laurie Anderson (b. 1947 in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago) is a writer, director, composer, visual artist, musician and vocalist who has created groundbreaking works that span the worlds of art, theater, experimental music, and technology. Her recording career was launched by “O Superman” in 1981.

Laurie Anderson’s live shows range from simple spoken word to expansive multimedia stage performances such as the eight-hour “United States” (1982), “Empty Places” (1990), “Songs and Stories from Moby Dick” (1999), and “Delusion” (2010). In 2002, Anderson was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA which culminated in her 2004 touring solo performance “The End of the Moon”.

Anderson had created numerous audio-visual installations as well as films — the feature film “Home of the Brave” (1986), “Carmen” (1992), and “Hidden Inside Mountains” (2005). Her film “Heart of a Dog” (2015) was chosen as an official selection of the 2015 Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. In the same year, her exhibition “Habeas Corpus” opened at the Park Avenue Armory to wide critical acclaim and in 2016 she was the recipient of Yoko Ono’s Courage Award for the Arts for that project.

 A green landscape. In the upper right corner, a dog's nose and mouth can be seen in profile
Laurie Anderson, Heart of a Dog, 2015 Filmstill © Laurie Anderson

As a performer and musician, she has collaborated with many people including Brian Eno, Jean-Michel Jarre, William S. Burroughs, Peter Gabriel, Robert Wilson, Christian McBride and Philip Glass. Her works for quartets and orchestras, “Songs for Amelia” (2001), has been played in festivals and concert halls around the world and she has invented a series of instruments and electronic sculptures.

Anderson has published ten books and been nominated for five Grammys throughout her recording career with Warner Records and Nonesuch. She released “Landfall”, a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet, which received a Grammy award in 2018.

As a composer, Anderson has contributed music to films by Wim Wenders and Jonathan Demme, dance pieces by Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, Molissa Fenley, and scores for theater productions including plays by Robert LePage. She has created pieces for National Public Radio, France Culture and the BBC. She has curated several large festivals including the Vivid Festival in Sydney (2010) and the Meltdown Festival at Royal Festival Hall in London (1997).

Her visual work has been featured in many galleries and museums including in 2003, the Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon in France produced a touring retrospective of her work entitled “The Record of the Time: Sound in the Work of Laurie Anderson”. In 2010 a retrospective of her visual and installation work opened in São Paulo, Brazil and later traveled to Rio de Janeiro.

Anderson’s largest solo exhibition at The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C., titled “The Weather” (2021-2022), showcased the artist’s storytelling process through her work in video, performance, installation, painting, and other media.

Black and white image from the VR work To the Moon
Laurie Anderson, To the Moon, 2018 Filmstill from VR © Laurie Anderson.

Her visual work is on long term display at MASS MoCA and her three virtual reality works, “Chalkroom”, “Aloft”, and “To The Moon”, collaborations with the artist Hsin-Chien Huang, won several awards including Best VR Experience at the 74th Venice International Film Festival in 2017 and were featured in the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.

She has received numerous honorary doctorates, prizes and awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship, Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, and the Wolf Prize.

In 2021 she served as Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University and delivered the Norton lectures as video, now available online. She has worked on numerous projects in AI with the Machine Learning Institute in Adelaide, Australia where she was artist in residence in 2020. Anderson continues to tour her evolving performance “The Art of Falling” and is working on an opera, “ARK”, commissioned by the Manchester International Festival, premiering in 2024.

Her life partner as well as her collaborator was Lou Reed from 1992 onward. They married in 2008 and worked on numerous projects together until his death in 2013. Anderson lives in New York City.

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