LONDON.- The Praemium Imperiale is a global arts prize awarded annually by the Japan Art Association. Now in its 24th year, since its inauguration in 1989 it has become a mark of the highest international distinction for achievement in the arts. The awards honour individuals from all over the world who have made an outstanding contribution to the development of the arts and are made in five categories Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music and Theatre/film.
The awards will be presented by Prince Hitachi, Honorary Patron of the Japan Art Association, the younger brother of the Emperor of Japan, at a ceremony in Tokyo in October. Each Laureate will receive an honorarium of 15 million yen (c. £115,000), a diploma and a medal making the Awards globally the most substantial.
The list of major artists selected this year includes Cai Guo-Quiang, the brilliantly innovative Chinese artist who created the memorable Footprints in the Sky works for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics so appropriate for this Olympic year. He is the first Chinese Praemium Imperiale Laureate.
Henning Larsen, the great Scandinavian architect responsible for so many outstanding, light-filled buildings both in his native Scandinavia but also in the Middle East, is another first the first Danish Laureate for Praemium Imperiale.
This year, the Music Category has been given to Philip Glass one of the most influential composers of the modern period and well known to many for his collaborations with musicians as diverse as Ravi Shankar, David Bowie, Brian Eno and Leonard Cohen.
The Japanese ballet dancer, Yoko Morishita in the category of Theatre/Film and the Italian sculptor, Cecco Bonanotte in the category of Sculpture further emphasis the rich diversity of these awards.
Lord Patten of Barnes, UKs International Advisor to the Praemium Imperiale Awards says, it is fitting that, in this Olympic year, one of the artists who contributed so much to the Beijing Olympics be honoured. But lets not forget that Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid who have made a major impression on the London Olympics, are also members of the very exclusive club of past Praemium Imperiale Laureates (Anish Kapoor 2011 and Zaha Hadid 2009)