For the first time in the history of the Praemium Imperiale Awards
, four of the five Laureates, whose names are announced today, are based in a single country - the UK. This is a great tribute to the rich cultural diversity that exists in Britain.
The Laureates for 2009 are:
Painting: Hiroshi Sugimoto
Sculpture: Richard Long
Architecture: Zaha Hadid
Music: Alfred Brendel
Theatre/Film: Tom Stoppard
Every year, the Japan Art Association selects five new Laureates from countries around the world. Within this years Laureates there is great diversity, three of the four coming originally from countries outside the UK: Iraq (Zaha Hadid) and Czechoslovakia (Alfred Brendel and Tom Stoppard). Their individual stories reflect the histories of their countries and of the world in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
However, these Laureates are chosen not for their personal histories but for the impact they have made on the history of their chosen art form. So in that sense this year is, as with previous years, a comprehensive survey of the worlds greatest artists.
This year is also the first year that a photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto, has been given the Award in the category of Painting acknowledging photographys rightful position in the Arts.
On October 22nd the Laureates will travel to Japan to attend the Awards Ceremony, presided over by the honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, Prince Hitachi, younger brother of the present Emperor of Japan.
Previous UK Laureates are David Hockney, James Stirling, Anthony Caro, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Richard Attenborough, John Gielgud, Peter Brook, Richard Rogers, Tony Cragg, Norman Foster, Bridget Riley and Richard Hamilton representing the UKs rich and diverse artistic heritage.