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Biography of William WILSON

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William WILSON William WILSON William WILSON William WILSON
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Born on 16/03/1952 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

William Wilson born March 16, 1952 , is a French-Togolese artist who lives in Paris (France).

He was born in 1952 from a french mother and a father from the Guin-Mina people living on the coast of Togo-Bénin.
He grew up in Orléans and reached university in Paris at 19 to study philosophy and anthropology (1971-1975).
In 1972 he had his first travel in the Gulf of Guinea and he began, step by step, to discover the history of his african families on the west coast of Africa from Ghana to Nigeria, especially the Wilson-Bahun-Lawson families from Aneho (Togo) from on side and to the so-called " Brasilian" or Agouda , the d’Almeida- da Silva families  from Ouidah (Benin).

In 1973 he began art, as a self-taught artist. First show in 1979.
Since 1983 he has held many shows in Europe and the US.

In 1986 he got the « Prix de la Villa Hors les murs » a grant to spend one year in New-York and California.

WW is using many different medias. Pastels, paintings, sculpturs and assemblages, drawings and collages, photographs and videos, prints and illustrations.

In the 80’ and 90’, WW had many collaboration with other artists and created costums and sets for musical-videos, modern choregraphies, artists books as well as textils pattern, design, wall paintings etc.

As an illustrator, he had work with the New-Yorker in the US, Liberation, Telerama etc. in France , and for many publishers. 
He also created 13 books for young public, and he holds occasionally workshops and lectures.

In 1997 he was commissioned by the United Nations to illustrate the 50th Anniversary book of the « Universal Declaration of Human Rights. »
UN Editions. Geneva 1998. In 6 languages.

During his about 25 years career, WW had several opportunities to stay in artists residences.
1983 : 2 month residency in Jamaïca. Works about music and the Rastafarians .
1987 : 2 months in Yaddo (New-York State).
1990 : 3 month in La Napoule foundation (France).
In 1998 he spend a 3 month residence in Kyoto (Japan), studiing japanese temples gardens.

2000 he was 8 weeks in Mauritius, working on the tropical sea life.

2004 He was commissioned to create a stone-garden ( 500 m2 ) in the artist colony of A.I.R. near Pondichery (Tamil Nadu. India).

2007-2008-2009. He had 6 sojourns in Abomey (Benin) working with the families of traditional « Tenturiers » to create the series « L’Océan Noir,The Black Ocean, O Oceano negro ». 18 pieces of appliquéd telling on 3 different aspects , the history of the Gulf of Benin and the consequences up to nowdays.

This series was already showned in 16 places, museums and other institutions. In France, Belgium, the Usa, Israel, Suisse , Italie, Mali, Benin…

A book-catalogue was published in april 2009 by Gallimard in Paris. 
As the author of the text, the images and the lay-out, WW is giving the main clues in his attemp to understand more about the heritage of his ancestors’ history.

It’s through the art that William Wilson intends to built a testimony of his destiny: singular and universal as well.


These days WW is working on a series of large collages of africain textiles (wax, bazin etc)...

Books, publications, ...



La Vie en chocolat Texte Isabelle Jarry. Images WW. Tirage 1000 ex Editions Les Etoiles et les Cochons 1997 (épuisé)

Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l'homme Texte original de la DUDH + 24 pastels de WW 1997 Editions Mango et ONU Versions Français, English, Italiano, Deutch, Néerlandais.48 pages / 260X290 mm / Couverture cartonnée ISBN : 2-74040-722-X / EAN : 9782740407226

365 Contes des pourquoi et des comment Textes compilés par Muriel Bloch + 150 Illustrations de WW 1997 Editions Gallimard-Giboulée.


Le Nelson Mandela Textes N. Mandela. Mise en page et illustrations WW Photos Agence Magnum 2001 Editions Mango. Version Mexique (Espagnol) 2004
, Coréenne 2004.

48 pages / 260*290 mm / Couverture cartonnée. Epuisé en français.

Le Commandeur d’une pluie, suivi de L’Accra de la richesse 2 Contes de Patrick Chamoiseau.Illustrations WW

2002 Editions Gallimard-Giboulées.

Les Proverbes de l’éléphant Textes et Illustrations WW 2003 Editions Gallimard-Giboulées.

Le sac à soucis Texte Muriel Bloch + Illustrations de WW 2004 Editions Thierry Magnier.

 Les Proverbes du Crocodile Textes et Illustrations WW 2004 Ed Gallimard-Giboulées.

Aglaé en Inde Texte Isabelle Jarry. Images et mise en page WW 2004 Editions JALAN Publications Paris

Les Proverbes du Panda Textes et Illustrations WW 2005 Ed Gallimard-Giboulées.

Les trompes D’Eustache Texte Marie Nimier Illustrations WW 2005 Gallimard-Giboulées.

 La Kangouroute Texte Marie Nimier Illustrations WW Gallimard-Giboulées. octobre 2006.

 Balthazar au Jardin Texte Isabelle Jarry. Images et mise en page William Wilson Gallimard-Giboulées. Mai 2007

 L'Océan Noir Images texte et photos William Wilson Préface de Catherine Clément. PostfaceJoseph Adande.
Gallimard-Giboulées. avril 2009
ISBN : 9 782070625239

Exhibitions, works




3 Mai- 3 juin "Vodouns" Collages MC2a PORTE 44/. 
44 rue du Faubourg des Arts - 33 000 Bordeaux

May-3 June-3. The Black Ocean. Musée d'Aquitaine. Bordeaux, France.


2-23 December. The Black Ocean. I.S. Lomé, Togo. 6th Festival of the Black Divinities 2011. Aneho, Glidji, Lomé.

5 - 10 October The Black Ocean at the International Festival of Geography ( FIG ) 

Saint Dié des Vosges. France

March 25-June 20. The Black Ocean. Museum of the New World.

Musée du Nouveau Monde La Rochelle (France)



October 30- december 31 L'Ocean Noir Musée Africain,  Lyon, France.
8 june - 8 july L'Océan Noir The Black Ocean O Oceano negro.
Médiathèque des diasporas
Regard Bénin 1.0 First Biennale of Cotonou. Cotonou Bénin.

5 - 30 april . The Black Ocean : Europe, Africa, America. 

A suite of appliqué narratives. Hillstate Gallery : Lincoln University NE. USA

26 march -18 april L'Océan Noir The Black Ocean in Bologne. Museo Civico Medievale. _Bologna Italia

7 au 13 march 2010 L'Océan Noir au CCF de Bamako au Mali.

4 Feb-13 june 2010 Exposition L'Océan Noir The Black Ocean Fondation Blachère à Apt France.

23 jan au 20 Feb 2010. L'Océan Noir The Black Ocean au Centre Culturel Jean Cocteau. Les Lilas 93 France.

10 dec 2009- 5 Jan 2010. L'Océan Noir au Musée du Quai Branly. Paris. Dans le cadre de l'exposition Artistes d'Abomey__

28 april-23 may William Wilson: l'art souverain. Galerie Philippe LAWSON 16 rue des Carmes Paris 75005__

30 may- 3 june
First exhibition of the series : L'Océan Noir The Black Ocean Festival Etonnants Voyageurs de Saint Malo France.

7 march-april-24 may. William Wilson (Rétrospective)
Maison de Arts de Laon (87) France

4-8 Mai Ecorces de Corse et Terres d'ailleurs.
(sculptures in cork )
Gloria Mundi 9 passage Annibal Paris 14

1-27 Nov "Here and there" Pastels and sculptures
Halle Saint Pierre Paris 18

30 April au 17 july "Champs libres” Retrospective show
Chapelle de Pontgivard (Marne) Champagne FR


15 Avr -31 aug William Wilson- Works1980-2004 Floréal St Ouen 92 FR.

7-27 Oct Pastels& prints Centre Charles Baudelaire
Maurituis Island, Océan Indien

26 Feb-5 Mar Pastels et dessins Galerie ROCKET Tokyo, Japon

3 Dec-10 Jan Peintures Sculptures Galerie Porte 2a Bordeaux France

8-18 Dec Pastels originaux de la "Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l'Homme" Palais des Nations, Geneve Suisse

Nov. 10 - Dec. 10 “New Pastels”
Galerie Richard Treger, Paris

Nov. 7-17 MAC 2000. Espace Eiffel-Branly, Paris

Sept. 7- Oct. 13 “William Wilson à la Galerie Numaga”
Paintings, sculptures, pastels, prints Auvernier, Suisse

Feb. 27- April 15 “Voyage en Arizona” Oil/ linen and pastels
Jernigan-Wicker Fine Arts, San Francisco, USA sponsored by LOUIS VUITTON

June 8- Sept. 30 “Le Voyage en Arizona” Giant pastels
Galerie Loft, Paris. sponsored by LOUIS VUITTON

Sept. 20 - Oct.13 “Têtes à histoires” Pastels
Galerie Christophe, Paris

Jan.- Feb. “The Togolese series”
French Cultural Center, Lomé, Togo

Feb. 10-29 “Sculptures out of chairs”
French Institute, Innsbrück, Austria

Jan. 12 - Feb. 11 Paintings and Sculptures Galerie Marie-Thérèse Wagner, Thionville, France

May 28 - June 30 “Portraits de chaises” Sculptures Galerie Michel Gillet, Paris

April 26 - May 12 “Chaises au mur et livres à thème”
Sculptures and works on paper Galerie Fanny Guillon-Laffaille, Paris

April 25 - May 13 Paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints
Centre d'Action Culturelle, Angoulême, France

June 11- July 20 Paintings and drawings Galerie RTL Plus, Cologne, Germany


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Last update : 08/16/2014

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