The Praemium Imperiale is a global arts prize awarded annually by the Japan Art Association. Since its inauguration in 1989, it has become a mark of the arts.  Six nomination committees, each chaired by an International Advisor, propose candidates in five fields: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music and Theatre/Film.

The Japan Art Association celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1988. In the previous year, Prince Takamatsu, who was serving his 58th year as governor of the Association, passed away. The Praemium Imperiale, a group of prizes to support the development of art and culture worldwide, was established the following year, according to the last wishes of Prince Takamatsu.

Praemium Imperiale honors artists who have contributed significantly to the development of international arts and culture. At the same time, it is hoped that the prize will serve to encourage future generations of artists. The Japan Art Association wishes to acknowledge and express gratitude to creators of art.

The Japan Art Association hopes that the Praemium Imperiale will serve to promote increased international cooperation and understanding, and contribute to world peace. The Praemium Imperiale is based on the idea that the arts celebrate man’s creativity and are the reflection of his spirit and enduring legacy.

The artists are recognized and awarded for their achievements, for the impact they have had internationally on the arts, and for their role in enriching the global community. The five recipients each receive 15 million yen ($144,230), a testimonial letter and a medal presented by honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, Prince Hitachi, in an awards ceremony in Tokyo. The awards ceremony was held in Tokyo on October 18, 2016.

The Praemium Imperiale is the world’s largest and most prestigious arts prize in the five disciplines of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music and Theatre/Film. Now in its 28th year, the Praemium Imperiale has grown to become a powerful voice for the importance of the arts in today’s world. It gives international recognition to the arts - much in the same way as the Nobel Prizes do in Science. The 2016 laureates join a roster of 139 artists, including Ingmar Bergman, Leonard Bernstein, Peter Broom, Anthony Caro, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Jean-Luc Godard, David Hockney, Willem de Kooning, Akira Kurosawa, Renzo Piano, Robert Rauschenberg, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Ravi Shankar. 

International Advisors to the Praemium Imperiale chair nomination committees and propose candidates for the annual awards. The Japan Art Association selection committees make final selections. International Advisors include several prominent statesmen and business leaders: Lamberto Dini, William Luers, Christopher Patten, Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Yasuhiro Nakasone. Honorary Advisors are Jacques Chirac, David Rockefeller, David Rockefeller, Jr. and Francois Pinault.

In addition to the Praemium Imperiale awards in 5 categories, the Japan Art Association gives an annual grant of 5 million yen (approx. $48,076) to a group or institution that encourages the involvement of young people in the arts. The Grant for Young Artists was inaugurated in 1997 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Praemium Imperiale. 

The grant was announced on September 13 at a press conference in Tokyo, presided over by Japanese International Advisor, Mr. Yasuhiro Nakasone. Mr. Hisashi Hieda, chairman of the Japan Art Association, gave the diploma and grant of 5 million yen (approx. $48,076) to Marion D’Cruz, founder of Five Arts Centre. 

The Laureates

The 28th Praemium Imperiale:

Painting:        Cindy Sherman (USA)
Sculpture:        Annette Messager (France)
Architecture:        Paulo Mendes da Rocha (Brazil)
Music:            Gidon Kremer (Latvia)
Theatre/Film:        Martin Scorsese (USA)

2016 Grant for Young Artists:
Five Arts Centre (Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Award Events

Press Conference:
The joint press conference for the 2016Praemium Imperiale took place at the Hotel Okura Tokyo on October 17. 

Awards Ceremony:
The awards ceremony was held at the Meiji Kinenkan (Memorial) Hall on October 18. The laureates were awarded medals by Prince Hitachi. A cocktail reception and banquet followed the ceremony. 

Laureate Profiles

Painting – Cindy Sherman (USA)
Cindy Sherman first came to the public’s attention with her series of black and white photographs, Untitled Film Stills, all featuring images of the artist herself in various guises, in settings designed to look like scenes from actual movies.  These portraits were created after many hours of careful research into locations and costumes – resulting in unique, thought-provoking imagery. Throughout her career Sherman has continued to work on her own, creating new photo series and the occasional movie – all exploring a multitude of themes, including the grotesque and the glamorous. Her works are characterized as Conceptual Art. She welcomes the debate that her works often provoke, saying “I want people to imagine different stories looking at my work. That’s kind of what I want.” She was the subject of a large-scale retrospective exhibition at MoMA in 2012. Most recently, she has exhibited 20 new images, her first new body of work since 2012. The pieces, created over a two-month period feature Sherman in poses and landscapes reminiscent of the stylized photos of actresses in the 1920s.

Sculpture –Annette Messager (France)
Adopting new perspectives and unconstrained by existing styles, Annette Messager has, since the 1970s, created a huge body of work that highlights the inner complexities and conflicts that affect the human condition and in particular the question of what constitutes a woman’s identity. Choosing the stance of an outsider, challenging authority, she delivers messages of powerful social and feminist import through her art. Messager’s work, created from household items, magazines and objects from daily life, frequently demonstrates a surreal, playful or humorous character that is often connected to memory or poetry. In 1982, she broke new ground with an ambitious, large scaled work entitled Chimaeras that fused photomontage with fantasy. Following its success she has worked with stereotypically feminine materials and motifs – using items of clothing, stuffed toys, embroidery and yarn, and combining them with photographs of fragmented body parts and animal taxidermy to create powerfully affecting pieces. She has exhibited widely, including at the Mori Art Museum in Japan in 2008 with a large-scale solo exhibition. In 2005 she won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. 

Architecture – Paulo Mendes da Rocha (Brazil) 
Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha showed prodigious talent from an early age, winning the competition to design the Gymnasium in the Paulistano Athletic Club at the age of 29. This hugely successful building was followed by other projects such as the renovation of the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture and the Patriarch Plaza redevelopment project with its iconic Portico. With a strong understanding of engineering (his father was a renowned engineer), these projects highlight the innate appeal of simple materials such as concrete and steel, and are structured to utilize space to maximum effect. Pursuing “an ideal harmony between the internal and the external,” his work comprehensively takes into account locality, history and landscape. Although da Rocha designed the Brazilian Pavilion at the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka, he has primarily worked in his native Brazil – with his first large scale overseas project, The National Coach Museum in Lisbon, Portugal, being completed in 2015. In 2006 he became the second Brazilian architect to be given the Pritzker Prize (the first being Oscar Niemeyer) and at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, he received the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.

Music – Gidon Kremer (Latvia)
When violinist Gidon Kremer was born, his country, Latvia, was still part of the Soviet Union. His grandfather and parents were professional violinists, so he grew up surrounded by music. He soon came to prominence, winning at the age of 16, a music competition in Latvia, then First Prize at both the 1969 Paganini Competition and the 1970 International Tchaikovsky Competition. That he was talented was apparent and in 1976 he was chosen by Herbert von Karajan to perform Brahms’ violin concerto in Berlin. He has worked with the leading conductors of the day including Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa, and has released over 120 recordings. He has a wide ranging repertoire that includes the classic as well as the contemporary – performing and promoting music by composers from the former Soviet Union such as Alfred Schnittke and also Argentine tango music by Astor Piazzolla. His passion for music is greater than just as a performer – he helped to create the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival to give young musicians from around the world the chance to play together and in 1997 founded the Kremerata Baltica, a chamber music orchestra for young musicians from the Baltic States. He has dual Latvian and German nationality.

Theatre/Film – Martin Scorsese (USA)
From his debut in the early 1970s, Martin Scorsese has been recognized as one of the most important and influential film-makers of his generation. New York City, where he was born and raised, is often the backdrop to his films – frequently gritty, violent films that explore the dark side of American society. Faith, temptation, sin and atonement, essentially moral and religious issues are also themes that run through many of his works. In 1976 he received the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Taxi Driver and in 2006 he won the Academy Award as Director for The Departed. Over his long career he has worked with most major actors but is particularly known for his close working relationship with Robert De Niro and more recently, Leonardo DiCaprio. In addition to directing and producing, Scorsese has worked occasionally as an actor – he appeared as Vincent van Gogh in Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990) – as well as creating, more recently, drama for television.  He is passionate about the history of the industry in which he has spent his life, and in 1990 founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of films.  His latest film project, Silence, based on the novel by the Japanese author Shusaku Endo, has taken 27 years to realize and is due to be released later this year.

2016 Grant for Young Artists

Five Arts Centre (Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) 
The Five Arts Centre was founded in 1984 by two theater directors, Krishen Jit (d.2005) and Chin San Sooi, and the dancer/choreographer/educator, Marion D’Cruz. In the culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse Malaysia, where Malay, English and Chinese are all spoken, its goal was, as D’Cruz says, “to provide opportunities and venues for telling distinctly Malaysian stories.” It has acted as a nexus for diverse artistic activities focused primarily in the five fields of Theater, Dance, Music, Young People’s Theater and Visual Arts – inspiring the community and supporting young artists with a wide range of programs, including experimental theater and dance performances, exhibitions and installations, a contemporary gamelan ensemble, children’s programs, workshops, forums and training programs for directors. Currently, there are 13 members, ranging in age from their 30s to their 60s, from different fields. The organization’s annual budget of 300,000 Malaysian Ringgit (approximately US$73,000) is covered by public and private funding. The Centre has presented performances outside Malaysia, in Asia and in Europe. The Centre is expected to play an even greater leadership role in supporting young artists and providing a platform for their endeavors.

Ceremony Shotlist (Starting at -00:05 following credits)

-00:05   title/credit

Awards Ceremony - October 18, 2016 at Meiji Kinenkan (Memorial) Hall, Tokyo, Japan 
00:00 Exterior of Meiji Kinenkan
00:07    Cindy Sherman entering 
00:13    Annette Messager entering
00:21 Gidon Kremer entering
00:29 Martin Scorsese entering
00:36 wide shot of Prince and Princess Hitachi, the four laureates and Pedro Mendes da Rocha (son of Paulo Mendes da Rocha)
00:42 Shot of Prince and Princess Hitachi
00:48 Shot of the four laureates and Pedro Mendes da Rocha (son of Paulo Mendes da Rocha), Prince and Princess Hitachi
00:52 Shot of the four laureates and Pedro Mendes da Rocha (son of Paulo Mendes da Rocha)
01:09    Video Message from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
01:15    Cindy Sherman receiving medal from Prince Hitachi 
01:36    Annette Messager receiving medal from Prince Hitachi
01:50    Gidon Kremer receiving medal from Prince Hitachi
02:06    Martin Scorsese receiving medal from Prince Hitachi
02:25    Pedro Mendes da Rocha (son of Paulo Mendes da Rocha) receiving medal from Prince Hitachi
02:57    SOUNDBITE: (Japanese) Prince Hitachi
“I hope they may further devote themselves to their activities and make even more remarkable achievements.”
03:07    SOUNDBITE: (English) Gidon Kremer
    “That is why it fills me with joy and pride to be surrounded today by distinguished artists who have chosen not to follow the crowd. In one way or another, we have all fought to remain true to the values that we believe in. We are not finished yet! Long live the arts!”

Cocktail Reception - October 18, 2016 at Meiji Kinenkan (Memorial) Hall, Tokyo, Japan
03:35 Gidon Kremer walking into the cocktail room
03:39 Martin Scorsese taking photos with director Shinya Tsukamoto and actor Issey Ogata
03:44 Cindy Sherman taking photos with actress Kyoka Suzuki
03:50 Annette Messager talking with comedian Noritake Kinashi

Awards Banquet - October 18, 2016 at Meiji Kinenkan (Memorial) Hall, Tokyo, Japan
03:55 Wide shot of banquet hall
03:59 Gidon Kremer being introduced 
04:04 Annette Messager being introduced
04:10 Martin Scorsese being introduced
04:16 Toast by International Advisers 

Laureates’ Respective Works
04:30 Cindy Sherman working in New York, United States
04:44 Untitled #574, 2016 (Cindy Sherman exhibition Metro Pictures Gallery New York)
04:47 Untitled #577, 2016 (Cindy Sherman exhibition Metro Pictures Gallery New York)
04:50 Untitled #583, 2016 (Cindy Sherman exhibition Metro Pictures Gallery New York)

04:53 Annette Messager working in Paris, France
05:09 Histoires de traversins, 1996-2015 (Musée des beaux-arts, Calais, France, 2016)
05:13 Close up of Histoires de traversins, 1996-2015
05:16 Close up of Histoires de traversins, 1996-2015
05:20 Les Chimères, 1982-2015 (Musée des beaux-arts, Calais, France, 2016)

05:24 Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s interview in São Paulo, Brazil 
05:30 Paulo Mendes da Rocha in front of Brazilian Museum of Sculpture (São Paulo, Brazil 1988)
05:38 Interior of Brazilian Museum of Sculpture (São Paulo, Brazil 1988)
05:44 Exterior of Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s former residence (São Paulo, Brazil 1960)
05:48 Interior of Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s former residence (São Paulo, Brazil 1960)
05:53 Portico (Patriarch Square, São Paulo, Brazil 2002)
05:57 Shot of Paulo Mendes da Rocha

06:06 Concert performance by Gidon Kremer with the members of Kremerata Baltica Eckelshausener Musiktage, Germany (May 2016)
06:42 Gidon Kremer posing with his violin in Sendai, Japan

Martin Scorsese’s Interview
06:50 Interview (B-roll) of Martin Scorsese in New York, United States
07:10 End of feed

18 October 2016