Mikhail Baryshnikov and More Announced as 2017 Praemium Imperiale Award Winners

Mikhail Baryshnikov and More Announced as 2017 Praemium Imperiale Award Winners

The Japan Art Association has just announced that Mikhail Baryshnikov, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest dancers of all time as well as a multi-talented performing artist, and world music star Youssou N'Dour, celebrated for expanding the definition of world music by mixing traditional melodies from his native Senegal with music from other cultures, have won the 2017 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award. The prize celebrates lifetime achievement in Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music, and Theatre/Film, categories not recognized by the Nobel Prize.

Baryshnikov and N'Dour are joined by Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat, whose powerful photographs, video installations and films illuminate the challenges facing Muslim women, particularly those who live in extremist religious environments; Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, whose use of found materials enhances their significance and imbues them with dignity; and Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, whose beautifully-designed structures complement their settings while establishing unique identities. Biographies of the winners can be found below.

N'Dour and Anatsui are the first artists from Senegal and Ghana, respectively, and Neshat the first Iranian woman, to receive the Praemium Imperiale.

The names of the 2017 winners will be formally announced at an event today at The Juilliard School's Paul Recital Hall in New York City. At a ceremony in Tokyo on October 18, His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, will present each laureate with a specially-designed gold medal and a testimonial letter. The prize carries with it 15 million yen (approximately $136,000).

Now in its 29th year, the Praemium Imperiale is the world's most prestigious international prize in the fields of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music, and Theatre/Film. It has become a powerful voice for the importance of culture in today's world.

The 2017 winners of the Praemium Imperiale join 144 of the greatest artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. They include Ingmar Bergman, Leonard Bernstein, Peter Brook, Anthony Caro, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Jean-Luc Godard, David Hockney, Willem De Kooning, Akira Kurosawa, Arthur Miller, Seiji Ozawa, Renzo Piano, Robert Rauschenberg, Mstislav Rostropovich, Ravi Shankar, Cindy Sherman, and Stephen Sondheim.

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 and the United States. 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.

Grant for Young Artists

In addition to the Praemium Imperiale, the Japan Art Association awards an annual grant of 5 million yen (approximately $45,000) to a group or institution that encourages young people's involvement in the arts. This year's winner of the Grant for Young Artists is Lebanon's Zoukak Theatre Company and Cultural Association, a collective that explores Lebanon's most pressing social and humanitarian challenges through the prism of theater. A biography of the winner can be found below.

Previous winners of the Grant for Young Artists include Cuba's Instituto Superior de Arte, Poland's Lodz Film School, the Vietnam National Conservatory of Music, the Ulster Youth Orchestra, the Kremerata Baltica Chamber Orchestra, and Detroit's Sphinx Organization.

The Grant for Young Artists was inaugurated in 1997 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Praemium Imperiale.

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