The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) learned with great sorrow of the loss David Wheeler, longtime resident director and later associate artist. Wheeler died Wednesday at the age of 86.

Since 1982, when Wheeler directed his first production — Sam Shepard’s “True West” — at the A.R.T., he created more than 20 productions, including most memorably his productions of Shaw and Pinter, including “Misalliance” and “Man and Superman,” “The Homecoming,” “The Caretaker,” and most recently “No Man’s Land,” which featured his son Lewis Wheeler, and his longtime collaborator, the also recently departed Paul Benedict.

A.R.T. Founding Director Robert Brustein said, “As director of the Theatre Company of Boston, David Wheeler was one of the founding fathers of postwar American theater and his influence on the American Repertory Theater has been incalculable. He was a particular master of American and English contemporary plays to which he added his customary humanity and humor. He will be sorely missed.”

A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus concurred: “It was with great sadness that we learned of David Wheeler’s passing. He was a wonderful and visionary director who helped shape many seasons at the American Repertory Theater and in Boston’s theater community. As a teacher here at Harvard, he mentored hundreds of students. Most importantly he was a friend to all of us at the theater.”

The A.R.T. planned to honor Wheeler with the annual Robert Brustein Award at its gala on Feb. 13, and intends to present it posthumously to his family at a separate memorial event to be held at the Loeb Drama Center. The date will be announced shortly.