Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss

Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss (born March 28, 1928, Lausanne, Switzerland) is a Swiss costume designer, scenic designer, sculptor, ceramist, and actress based in Sweden. She won the 1966 Tony Award for Best Costume Design for her work on Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade (1963).[1] She has designed sets and costumes for numerous theaters internationally, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Swedish Opera.[2] From 1966-1989 she worked regularly as a set and costume designer for Ingmar Bergman.[3] She also collaborated as a designer with directors Fritz Kortner and Peter Brook.[3]

Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss, 2010


Born Gunilla Pamstierna in Lausanne, Palmstierna-Weiss grew up in the Netherlands and Austria. Her parents, Kule Palmstierna and Vera Herzog, worked as physicians, and her grandfather, Erik Palmstierna, was foreign minister in Sweden's first social democratic government.[3] Her mother is of Jewish descent.[3] Her parents divorced when she was young, and she lived in Rotterdam and Berlin with her mother during World War II. After the war, she studied art in Amsterdam and Paris before moving to Sweden where she has remained since. From 1948 to 1952 she was married to the Swedish graphic artist Mark Christopher Sylwan.[3] In 1964 she married German writer, painter, graphic artist, and experimental filmmaker Peter Weiss. They remained married until his death in 1980.[4]

Palmstierna-Weiss began her career as a ceramist in the late 1940s and 1950s. She began a romantic relationship with Weiss after the end of her first marriage, and that relationship led to a new artistic interest initially in acting and then scenic and costume design where her artistic focus ultimately settled. She appeared as an actress in several of Weiss's early experimental films. She win a Tony Award in 1966 for her costume designs in Wiess's Marat/Sade, which were later used in the 1967 film version directed by Peter Brook.[3]

In 2009 she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.


  1. ^ Roger Ellis (1987). Peter Weiss in Exile: A Critical Study of His Works. University of Michigan Press. p. 21.
  2. ^ Glenn Loney (1978). Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss discusses designs and directors. Theatre Crafts. Theatre Crafts Associates. p. 39-44.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Irene Armbruster (October 2008). Drama eines Lebens: Die schwedische Feministin. Aufbau.
  4. ^ Robert Cohen (1993). Understanding Peter Weiss. University of South Carolina Press.