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Praemium Imperiale International Advisors: ’The Artists of This World Heal and Unite Us’

The wide variety of encouraging messages received from a total of 5 international advisors and 47 laureates of the Praemium Imperiale have been received and are shared here with the world.



Japan Art Association'sPraemium Imperiale Awards Ceremony in October 2019 at Tokyo


(First of 6 parts)


Part one: Praemium Imperiale International Advisors

Part two: Praemium Imperiale Laureates in the category of Painting

Part three: Praemium Imperiale Laureates in the category of Sculpture

Part four: Praemium Imperiale Laureates in the category of Architecture


Part five: Praemium Imperiale Laureates in the category of Music

Part six: Praemium Imperiale Laureates in the category of Theatre/Film

Among the pleasures of autumn, the annual Praemium Imperiale Awards are among the most highly anticipated in the global world of arts. This year, the 32nd anniversary of the awards ceremonyーinitiated by the Japan Art Association in 1988 to honor the artsーhad to be postponed until October 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

To reaffirm the importance of the arts, the organizers asked previous Praemium Imperiale laureates for their thoughts and reaction to this pandemic. 

Several guide questions were posed: 

  • The impact of the coronavirus on art’s network of social connections, 
  • The  way they view and create art,
  • The role of the arts in these difficult times, and 
  • The important  lessons that they, as artists, have learned from this crisis. 

The wide variety of encouraging messages received from a total of 5 international advisors and 47 laureates in five categories have been compiled into a special issue of the 2020 Praemium Imperiale Yearbook, providing a valuable testimony of this global crisis from the great artists of our time. Their comments are presented in six parts, according to the artist’s form of participation and artistic category. 

Excerpts of the varied and thoughtful comments of the Praemium Imperiale International Advisors follow.

Lamberto Dini, Former Prime Minister of Italy

We might well experience the emergence of innovative forms of art expression, in music and dance, in painting and sculpture, and in theatre and films. But, it will take time, will and talent, to create new conditions of shared ideas and interests in the world community. The Praemium Imperiale is a valuable instrument, well placed, given its history and vast expertise, to evaluate and take into account new artistic tendencies as they arise, while upholding its standing as the Nobel Prize of the  arts. 

Christopher Patten, Chancellor of the University of Oxford

We know that artistic triumphs — from the buildings which beautify our environment to the music that lifts our spirits — are a way of exploring our own identities, our own place in the world and also an insight into humanity’s capacity for genius. The arts pick us up when we are down and enable us to see the best of what civilization can contribute to life. So today, more than ever, Japan, the Japan Art Association and the Praemium Imperiale deserve a standing ovation. 


Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, Retired as President of the Goethe-Institut on November 18, 2020 

In this time of crisis and isolation, culture is assigned an ever-greater societal role, the role of art becomes even more central to our lives. Strengthening what connects us by a cross-border network of culture, the exposure to a multitude of perspectives and the dialogue about the arts – these are core elements of the Praemium Imperiale

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Former Prime Minister of France 

This virus is a global phenomenon, one of a kind, which, like all dramatic events men went through centuries after centuries, will be a new source of inspiration, will trigger new creations, new ways of thinking, new perspectives. Each region, each country will bring their identity, their singularity to that common movement. The 2021 edition of the Praemium Imperiale will be a key moment to gather, share our sentiments and transcend through art what sets us apart and sometimes opposes us.

Caroline Kennedy, Former U. S. Ambassador to Japan 

Through their introspection and work, it is the artists of this world who heal and unite us by bringing the stories of our individual experiences to light. I commend the Praemium Imperiale for its commitment to celebrate the exceptional artists of our time, who can help us seize this transformational moment and integrate the lessons learned.

About the Praemium Imperiale: 

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 was the association’s honorary patron for almost six decades. 

The Association chooses the winners based on the recommendations of individual International Advisors in England, France, Italy, Germany, the United States, and Japan. Each advisor is guided by the recommendations of a nominating committee, comprising cultural leaders from his home country. The international advisors are leading figures with a deep interest or involvement in the arts. International advisors to the Praemium Imperiale chair nomination committees and propose candidates for the annual awards. Japan Art Association selection committees make final selections. Selections for the 32nd Praemium Imperiale awards will be presented at a ceremony in October 2021.

(Continues in Part 2)

Author: JAPAN Forward


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