Steven Holl honored at Tokyo Ceremony for winners of 2014 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award

U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy in attendance as His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi greeted laureates
Guests included Robert Storr, Dean, Yale University School of Art, and architects Toyo Ito, Yoshio Taniguchi and Fumihiko Maki

NEW YORK, NY: October 15, 2014—At a formal ceremony in Tokyo today attended by U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, presented the organization’s Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award to American architect Steven Holl. Critic Paul Goldberger has called Holl “one of the most admired architects in the United States [and] a figure of international importance.”

The Praemium Imperiale is considered one of the most prestigious international cultural awards. It recognizes lifetime achievement in the arts in Architecture, Music, Painting, Sculpture, and Theatre/Film, categories not covered by the Nobel Prize.

Among the dignitaries in attendance, in addition to Ambassador Kennedy, were Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale University School of Art and former Curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and architects Toyo Ito, Yoshio Taniguchi and Fumihiko Maki, winners of the 2010, 2005 and 1999 Praemium Imperiale, respectively.

Also receiving the 2014 Praemium Imperiale were South African playwright Athol Fugard, the first winner from the African continent; composer Arvo Pärt, the first Estonian winner; French painter Martial Raysse; and Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone.

At the ceremony, each laureate was awarded a specially-designed gold medal, a testimonial letter from Prince Hitachi, and a check for 15 million yen (approximately $150,000).

In July, the Zinsou Foundation in Benin, West Africa, was awarded the Japan Art Association’s 2014 Grant for Young Artists. The 5 million-yen prize (approximately $50,000) will support the group’s free workshops, events and contemporary African Art exhibitions.

Together, the winners of this year’s awards represent six countries and three continents.

The 2014 winners join a group of 129 artists comprising many of the greatest cultural visionaries 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, Renzo Piano, Robert Rauschenberg, Mstislav Rostropovich and Ravi Shankar. A complete list of winners can be found here.

The Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award was created in 1988 to commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of the Japan Art Association and to honor the late Prince Takamatsu, who served as the association’s honorary patron for 58 years, and his commitment to the arts. Now in its 26th year, the prize remains a powerful international voice for the enduring value of the arts.

The winners of the Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award are chosen by the Japan Art Association from a group of artists nominated by a panel of advisors from United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. Each advisor is guided by the recommendations of a nominating committee comprising cultural leaders from his home country.

Leading the American nominating committee is William Luers, a former president of the United Nations Association of America and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a retired American ambassador and diplomat. This is Mr. Luers’ twelfth year as American Advisor since succeeding David Rockefeller, Jr., now an honorary advisor.

“The Praemium Imperiale affirms the importance and life-enhancing power of the arts,” said Mr. Luers. “This year’s laureates, like those that preceded them, represent the very best in artistic expression.”

In addition to Mr. Luers, the international advisory panel includes the statesmen and business leaders Lamberto Dini, a former Italian prime minister; Christopher Patten, Chancellor of the University of Oxford and former Chairman of the BBC Trust; Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, President of Germany’s Goethe-Institut; former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin; and Yasuhiro Nakasone, a former Prime Minister of Japan.

Honorary advisors are Jacques Chirac, the former President of France; philanthropist David Rockefeller, the former CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank; David Rockefeller, Jr., a philanthropist and environmentalist; former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt; Richard von Weizsäcker, former President of the Federal Republic of Germany; and François Pinault, founder of Kering, the French retail conglomerate.

Last year, the Praemium Imperiale was given to Michelangelo Pistoletto (Painting), Antony Gormley (Sculpture), David Chipperfield (Architecture), Plácido Domingo (Music) and Francis Ford Coppola (Theatre/Film).

For more information on the Japan Art Association, the Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award, and the 2014 laureates, please visit