Olafur Eliasson And Vija Celmins Win £90,000 Praemium Imperiale prizes

Japan Art Association

The Japan Art Association and Lord Patten of Barnes, Praemium Imperiale’s International Advisor in the UK, have announced the recipients of the 2023 Praemium Imperiale Awards:

Painting: Vija CELMINS (Latvia/USA) – Sculpture: Olafur ELIASSON (Iceland/Denmark) – Architecture: Francis KÉRÉ (Burkina Faso/Germany) – Music: Wynton MARSALIS (USA) – Theatre/Film: Robert WILSON (USA)

Each Laureate receives an honorarium of 15 million Yen (c. £90,000).  The awards are given by the Japan Art Association under the honorary patronage of HIH Prince Hitachi, younger brother of the Emperor Emeritus of Japan.

Lord Patten remarked, ‘This year the Japan Art Association have selected 5 outstanding artists with huge global reach for the Praemium Imperiale awards.  I’m particularly delighted with the selection of Rural Studio for the Grant for Young artists.  Led by British architect, Andrew Freear, it is a powerful demonstration of the transformational power of the arts, especially when integrated into the community.’

Winner of nine Grammy Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Music, the New Orleans-born Wynton Marsalis is celebrated as a trumpeter, bandleader, composer and advocate of American culture.  As the only musician to have won a Grammy in both jazz and classical categories in the same year, Marsalis and his compositions are familiar presence on UK concert platforms.  On 9th November at the Royal Festival Hall, Marsalis’ Violin Concerto will be performed by the violinist Nicola Benedetti with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali.  Marsalis said, ‘This piece was written for Nicola Benedetti.  It takes inspiration from her life as a traveling performer and educator who enlightens and delights communities all over the world with the magic of virtuosity.  Scored for symphony orchestra, with tremendous respect for the demands of that instrument, it is nonetheless written from the perspective of a jazz musician and New Orleans bluesman.  We believe that all human beings are connected in the essential fundamentals of life:  birth, death, love, and laughter, that our most profound individual experiences are also universal (especially pain); and acknowledging the depth of that pain in the context of a groove is a powerful first step towards healing.’

Subject of a major Tate Modern retrospective in 2019/20, Olafur Eliasson is in the process of developing his first permanent outdoor artwork in the UK.  Provisionally named ‘Your daylight destination,’ the new landmark artwork for the Cumbrian coastline in Northwest England is developed by Studio Olafur Eliasson in close collaboration with British writer Robert Macfarlane after a series of exploratory visits in 2021/2022.  The design, proposed for a site near Silecroft, uses the beach as a stage for an expansive artwork utilising the daily tides, sea water and light.  The proposal was commissioned by the Copeland Borough Council as part of a new area wide art programme for Copeland entitled ‘Deep Time:  Commissions for the Lake District Coast.’

In addition to the Praemium Imperiale Awards, the 5 million Yen (c. £30,000) Grants for Young Artists, selected this year by International Advisor Hillary Rodham Clinton, have been awarded to Harlem School of the Arts in New York and Rural Studios in Newbern, Alabama.  Led by the British architect Andrew Freear, Rural Studio was founded 30 years ago and is regarded as one of the oldest, most influential, and well-respected design-build programmes in the world.  Rooted in Hale County and part of Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, more than 1,200 students have been educated through Rural Studio’s context-based service-learning curriculum, where students live and work alongside neighbours.  Freear and his students have together designed and built more than 220 community buildings, homes, and parks in their under-resourced community.

Since 1989, the Praemium Imperiale Awards have been given annually in the categories of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music and Theatre/Film; covering fields of achievement not represented by the Nobel Prizes.  The Laureates are selected from a list submitted by six International Advisors to the Japan Art Association.  In order to maintain the Awards’ mandate to select candidates who have made a major international impact in their particular field, the International Advisors for the Awards and their committees are committed to looking beyond their own national boundaries for ground-breaking artists to recommend to the Japan Art Association.

Previous British winners include David Hockney, Mona Hatoum, Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, David Chipperfield, Judi Dench, Anthony Caro and Tony Cragg.

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