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2011 Praemium Imperiale international arts awards presented at a formal ceremony in Tokyo
US video artist Bill Viola speaks at a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, 18 October 2011. The Praemium Imperiale is a global arts prize awarded annually by the Japan Art Association. Five laureates are nominated in the fields of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music and Theatre/Film. For its 23rd edition, the Praemium Imperiale awards have been given to American video artist Bill Viola, British sculptor Anish Kapoor, Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa and British actress Judi Dench. EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON.

TOKYO.- On Wednesday, October 19th, His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, presented the Praemium Imperiale art awards at a formal ceremony in Tokyo to an esteemed class of Laureates who have shown extraordinary achievement in the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and theatre/film. Academy and Tony Award-winning actress Dame Judi Dench and her four fellow Laureates were on hand to receive their specially-designed gold medals and diplomas from Prince Hitachi. Carrying prizes of 15 million yen (approximately $195,000) each, the awards recognize lifetime achievement in the arts in categories not covered by the Nobel Prizes.

The 2011 Praemium Imperiale Laureates are:

*Bill Viola - Painting - USA
*Anish Kapoor - Sculpture - UK
*Ricardo Legorreta - Architecture - Mexico
*Seiji Ozawa - Music - Japan
*Judi Dench - Theatre/Film - UK

The co-recipients of the annual Grant for Young Artists award (presented in July) were The Royal Court Young Writers Programme and Southbank Sinfonia. Each group received 2.5 million yen (approximately $30,000) to support their goals of nurturing the involvement of young people in the arts.

Candidates for the Praemium Imperiale awards are nominated by a distinguished panel of International Advisors and selected by the Japan Art Association. The American Advisor is William H. Luers, who currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and Seton Hall University. He was formerly the President of the United Nations Association. He also previously served for 14 years as President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, following a 31-year career as an American ambassador and diplomat. This is Mr. Luers’ tenth year on the panel since succeeding David Rockefeller, Jr., who now serves as an Honorary Advisor.

“Over the past 23 years the Praemium Imperiale awards have grown to become a powerful symbol of the importance of the arts in the global community,” said Mr. Luers. “We are honored to recognize this year’s distinguished group of Laureates for their outstanding achievements and life-long pursuit of excellence.”

Other International Advisors include Lamberto Dini(Italy), François Pinault(France), Christopher Patten(UK), Klaus-Dieter Lehmann(Germany) and Yasuhiro Nakasone(Japan). In addition to David Rockefeller, Jr., other Honorary Advisors are Jacques Chirac, David Rockefeller, Helmut Schmidt, and Richard von Weizsäcker.

Last year, the Praemium Imperiale was awarded to Enrico Castellani (painting), Rebecca Horn (sculpture), Toyo Ito (architecture), Maurizio Pollini (music), and Sophia Loren (theatre/film). Previous Laureates have included: Ingmar Bergman, Leonard Bernstein, Peter Brook, Anthony Caro, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Jean-Luc Godard, David Hockney, Willem de Kooning, Akira Kurosawa, Arthur Miller, Renzo Piano, Robert Rauschenberg, Mstislav Rostropovich, Ravi Shankar and Stephen Sondheim.

The Praemium Imperiale was created in 1988 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Japan Art Association and to honor the late Prince Takamatsu, who served as the association’s honorary patron for 58 years.

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