Japan Art Association Names 2011 Praemium Imperiale Laureates

The 2011 winners of the prestigious Praemium Imperiale arts awards, announced recently by the Japan Art Association in the ballroom of Claridge’s Hotel in London, include Academy and Tony Award-winning actress Dame Judi Dench, New Media artist Bill Viola and former music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Seiji Ozawa. Carrying prizes of 15 million yen (approximately $182,000) 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) (see below)
Anish Kapoor, Sculpture (UK)
Ricardo Legorreta, Architecture (Mexico)
Seiji Ozawa, Music (Japan)
Judi Dench, Theatre/Film (UK)

The Japan Art Association also named The Royal Court Young Writers Programme and Southbank Sinfonia as the co-recipients of its annual Grant for Young Artists award. Each of the London-based groups will receive an award of 2.5 million yen (approximately $30,000). The grant is presented to groups or institutions that encourage the involvement of young people in the arts.

The Praemium Imperiale awards ceremony will be held in Tokyo on October 19, where the Laureates will receive specially-designed gold medals and diplomas from His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association.

Bill Viola at his study in Long Beach. Photo: Japan Art Association.

Bill Viola
Born in New York City in 1951, Bill Viola is a pioneer of the genre of video art. His works, often referred to as “moving paintings,” have attracted global attention over the past 40 years. Early on, he saw the potential of creating a new form of contemporary art combining images, movement and sound to express the human condition in a new way. After studying visual art and electronic music at Syracuse University, Viola set up a studio at the university and, in 1972, joined a group exhibition in California with “Wild Horses,” his first public exhibition outside of the university. His works include videotapes, video installations, sound environments and television broadcast pieces. He often uses the elements of fire, water and light to explore the themes of birth, death and rebirth. In 1980, Viola married Kira Perov, beginning a lifelong artistic collaboration, working and travelling together. His major exhibitions include “Bill Viola: The Passions,” first shown in 2003, and “Bill Viola: Hatsu-Yume (First Dream)” at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo in 2006. Currently, he is completing a six-year project, creating two video chapels in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London set for completion in 2012.

Hatsu-Yume (First Dream), 1981 For Daien Tanaka. Videotape, color, stereo, sound. Photo: Kira Perov

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